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BAGHDAD — Iraqi forces pressed their offensive against ISIS group Friday, expecting to reach the outskirts of the militant-held city of Tikrit, a day after the extremists reportedly "bulldozed" a famed archaeological site in the area.
The discovery of the treasures of Nimrud's royal tombs in the 1980s is considered one of the 20th century's most significant archaeological finds. It dates back almost 3,000 years and has been compared to King Tutankhamun's tomb in Egypt.
The battle to wrest Tikrit — Saddam Hussein's hometown — from ISIS is a major test for the Iraqi forces and allied Shiite militias fighting on their side. The governor of Salahuddin, Raed al-Jabouri, said that Iraqi forces expect to reach Tikrit later Friday.
He told The Associated Press they still have not made it to Tikrit's east airport as some reports have suggested. Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad, has been under the control of ISIS group since June, when the Sunni militants made a lightning advance across northern Iraq, prompting Iraqi troops to flee and abandon their weapons.
On Monday, Iraqi security forces launched a large-scale operation in an effort to retake the city from the militant group, but the offensive was stalled somewhat, with military officials saying the militants strategically lined roads leading to the city with explosives and land mines.
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