Iraqi forces launched an attack to drive Islamist militants from Saddam Hussein's hometown, a senior Iraqi security force told NBC News on Tuesday. Invigorated by United States airstrikes, the Iraqi army is aiming to retake Tikrit from the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The source said that the army was being supported by the Iraqi air force, local tribesmen, and volunteers from a religious group called the AAH, which stands for Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq.
An army major and a police captain also told Reuters that the Iraqi troops were advancing rapidly from the south, but were slowed by landmines, roadside bombs and snipers in the west. ISIS is an offshoot of al Qaeda that recently declared a caliphate - or religious kingdom - across northern Iraq and Syria. U.S. airstrikes helped Iraqi and Kurdish forces to retake the strategic Mosul Dam from the militants on Monday.
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Reuters contributed to this report.