Iraqi government forces pictured on the outskirts of the city of Tikrit on Tuesday as they prepare to launch a military operation to take control of the city from Islamic State fighters. Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Iraqi security forces on Tuesday retook a town next to the militant-held city of Tikrit as they pressed their offensive against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants, two military officials said.
The Iraqi forces entered Alam early in the morning and hours later gained full control of the town adjacent to Tikrit, the two Iraqi officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.
The battle for Saddam Hussein’s hometown is a key test for the Iraqi forces as they struggle to win back some of the ISIL group’s biggest strongholds in Iraq.
Ahmed al-Karim, the Salahuddin provincial council chief, told The Associated Press that progress had been slow due to roadside bombs and sniper attacks.
Tikrit, Salahuddin’s provincial capital that lies about 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Baghdad, fell to the ISIL group last summer, along with Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, and other areas in the country’s Sunni heartland…