US strikes ISIS forces in Tikrit
26 March 2015, 10:47
Washington - The United States and its allies launched airstrikes on the Iraqi city of Tikrit, the US Defence Department said late on Wednesday, in support of an Iraqi government offensive to retake the northern city from Islamist militants.
The operation by the US-led coalition had been requested by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the US said.
The strikes would target only Islamic State forces and would avoid civilian casualties or damage to infrastructure where possible, commanding General James Terry said.
"This will further enable Iraqi forces under Iraqi command to manoeuvre and defeat [Islamic State militants] in the vicinity of Tikrit," Terry said.
Also read: Iraqi forces finally enter ISIS-held Tikrit
Iraqi and allied forces are in the middle of an offensive to retake the city, comprising more than 20 000 fighters, mostly thought to be Shiite militias backed by Iran.
"We do not coordinate our operations in any way with Iran or Iranian-backed militias," Terry said.
The militias have vowed revenge for the apparent mass execution of up to 1 200 Shiite army recruits by Islamic State forces during the lightning offensive last June that saw the jihadists seize Tikrit, Iraq's second city of Mosul, and other mainly Sunni areas.