Iraqi government forces backed by local tribal fighters have engaged members of the ISIL Takfiri terrorist group in the country’s northern province of Salahuddin, killing over a dozen of the militants.
A security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Iraqi soldiers killed 13 ISIL members during fierce exchanges of fire with the Takfiris south of the oil-rich city of Baiji, located some 210 kilometers (130 miles) north of the capital, Baghdad, on Thursday, Iraq’s al-Sumaria satellite TV network reported.
The source added that two tribal fighters sustained gunshot wounds during the heavy clashes.
The Iraqi forces and volunteer fighters are preparing to carry out the final stage of operations for the liberation of the strategic northern city of Tikrit, located 140 kilometers (86 miles) northwest of Baghdad, from ISIL militants.
According to Karim al-Nuri, a leader of Iraqi volunteer forces, the hometown of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is expected to be fully liberated in four days.
Tikrit is currently under complete siege, which has left the ISIL militants paralyzed and trapped inside the city.
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 the country’s northern city 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.