Thousands of Iraqi military troops backed by volunteer forces continue to push ISIL Takfiri terrorists out of the northern city of Tikrit, Press TV reports.
The operation for the liberation of the city in Iraq’s northern Salahuddin province continued on Friday, following a 10-day lull aimed at giving civilians time to flee the city.
“This is the last line of defense. We will stay here and continue liberating the whole city from ISIL militants,” Qassem Robaii, an Iraqi army commander, told the Press TV correspondent.
Tikrit is currently under a complete siege, which has left the ISIL militants paralyzed and trapped inside the city.
“The forces are advancing and soon we will announce the liberation of Tikirt,” an Iraqi soldier, named Abou Akil, told the correspondent.
Earlier this month, some 30,000 Iraqi troops started a large-scale operation to recapture Tikrit, which is the birthplace of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The volunteer forces, which include both Shia and Sunni members, also joined the operation.
Tikrit was seized by ISIL in June last year. The city’s recapture is crucial for the Iraqi army in its quest to take control of the country’s second-largest city, Mosul, situated some 400 kilometers (248 miles) north of Baghdad.
ISIL started its campaign of terror in Iraq in early June 2014. The heavily-armed militants took control of Mosul before sweeping through parts of the country’s Sunni Arab heartland.
Iraqi soldiers, police units, Kurdish forces, Shia volunteers and Sunni tribesmen have succeeded in driving the ISIL terrorists out of some areas in Iraq.