World Bulletin / News Desk
Iraqi troops aided by Shi'ite paramilitaries and Sunni tribal fighters have reached the center of Tikrit after securing the Sunni city's southern and western sections from ISIL militants, Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said on Tuesday.
"Our security forces have reached the center of Tikrit and they have liberated the southern and western sides and they are moving towards the control of the whole city," Abadi said in a statement, released by his office.
He credited the Iraqi army and police, supported by Iraqi and US-led air strikes, along with fighters on the ground from Shi'ite armed groups and Sunni tribes.
It is the most significant advance in Tikrit since pro-government forces launched an operation to retake the city on March 2, their largest since ISIL led an offensive that overran much of the country’s Sunni Arab heartland last June.
Salaheddin Governor Raad al-Juburi confirmed that the government headquarters had been retaken, saying that Iraqi flags now flew over various recaptured buildings in the city.
Badr spokesman Karim al-Nuri also said that the government headquarters was recaptured, and that Popular Mobilization members fought alongside federal police in the operation.