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 / Updated  / Source: NBC News

Iraqi military commanders have been ordered to drive ISIS militants out of the country and into Syria by the end of the year.

A day after forces loyal to the government of Iraq scored a major victory in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, a senior military source told NBC News that politicians were aiming to defeat the extremists "within a few months."

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the defense official said: "It is not a simple operation at all. We will need the help of all those who can help us."

However, he suggested that Iraqi officials appeared to be "over-optimistic." The source added: "Such an operation will cost us a lot and it is not going to be done within the next couple of months."

Iraq's President Fuwad Masoom recently indicated that his government aimed to eliminate ISIS from the country over the next 12 months.

"After liberating many areas were occupied by ISIS, Iraq is looking to defeat ISIS in Iraq within one year," he said at the Arab League Summit in Egypt on Saturday.

And in a New Year's message on Jan. 1, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi promised that 2015 "will be the year of liberating all Iraqi lands, and defeat ISIS."

Iraqi government forces, backed by Shiite Muslim militias and U.S.-led airstrikes, on Wednesday claimed victory over the Sunni Muslim extremists in most of Tikrit, after a month of fighting.

However, the defense official warned that Shiite Muslim militias were being reckless in their pursuit of victory.

“The commanders of Shiite militias are using pressure on the government to give orders to advance more and more without thinking of the consequences of sending our troops into fighting zones without being sure that we will win the battle,” he said.


— F. Brinley Bruton