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Iraqi troops are throwing everything they've got at Islamic State

It’s in a bid to take back the key stronghold of Tikrit.

SOME 30,000 IRAQI troops and militia backed by aircraft have pounded jihadists in and around Tikrit in the biggest offensive yet to retake one of the Islamic State group’s main strongholds.

Government forces have battled their way north for months, notching up key victories against IS, but Tikrit has been their toughest target yet with the jihadists having resisted them several times.

Commanders voiced hope the operation would be a step towards the recapture of Mosul, the jihadists’ main hub in Iraq.

Source: NBC News/YouTube

“The army, federal police, Popular Mobilisation (volunteer) units, and the sons of Salaheddin’s tribes are performing the duties of liberation in the largest operation against Daesh since June,” said a senior army officer on the ground, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

We are certain of victory… but the operation is not easy.

The operation began in early morning after being announced by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi the previous evening.

Military sources said warplanes were involved, but the Pentagon said they excluded those of the US-led coalition fighting IS.

Source: Sky News/YouTube

“We’re not providing air strikes in support of the operation around Tikrit,” said Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren.

It was unclear whether Iranian planes were involved, however.

Both Iraqi and Iranian media said Qassem Soleimani — the commander of the Al-Quds Force covert operations unit of Tehran’s elite Revolutionary Guards — was in Salaheddin province to help coordinate operations.

© – AFP 2015

Read: Mother of ‘Jihadi John’ says she recognised son’s voice in hostage videos >

More: CCTV shows British schoolgirls on their way to join ISIS in Syria >

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