US conducting airstrikes to help Iraqi forces retake Tikrit: Pentagon
Iran Press TV
Wed Mar 25, 2015 10:58PM
The United States has launched airstrikes to support Iraqi forces fighting to recapture the city of Tikrit from the ISIL terrorist group, the US military has confirmed.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said on Wednesday the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi requested coalition support and that operations were ongoing.
"These strikes are intended to destroy ISIL strongholds with precision, thereby saving innocent Iraqi lives while minimizing collateral damage to infrastructure," US Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, the commanding general of the anti-ISIL operation, said in a statement.
"This will further enable Iraqi forces under Iraqi command to maneuver and defeat ISIL in the vicinity of Tikrit," he added.
Terry said Iraqi forces have surrounded ISIL terrorists in Tikrit, adding that the US military was also providing aerial reconnaissance to Iraqi forces for operations.
A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that the airstrikes were 'ongoing,' without providing details.
The Associated Press reported that one of its correspondents in Tikrit heard warplanes overhead late Wednesday, followed by numerous explosions.
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.
Reports said the Iraqi army and volunteer forces regained much of Tikrit from the Takfiri militants following heavy firefight in the city, which has a strategic position as it sits on the road to the ISIL stronghold, Mosul.
The ISIL terrorists, many of whom were initially trained by the US Central Intelligence Agency in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, now control parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria. They have been engaged in crimes against humanity in the areas under their control.
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