The Iraqi Security Forces launched a new offensive on Monday as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria move closer and closer to Baghdad. According to Bloomberg, nearly 30,000 Iraqi soldiers have been deployed to Tikrit, the hometown of former Iraq President Saddam Hussein that is now under ISIS control. The Iraqi military hopes to retake the city from ISIS, which would begin the large-scale offensive against the extremist militants who have captured large swaths of northern Iraq and Syria.
BBC News reports that the Iraqi soldiers, who are backed by Sunni and Shiite militiamen, are attempting to move into Tikrit from several different directions. The soldiers are also being supported by airstrikes from Iraqi fighter planes.
If the Iraqi Security Forces reclaim Tikrit from ISIS militants, it could be a turning point in the unfolding war against the extremist terrorist group. Iraqi forces reportedly have a military campaign planned if the mission in Tikrit in successful, including launching offensives on the ISIS stronghold of Mosul.
But whether or not the security forces will be successful remains to be seen. Iraqi state-run outlet Al-Iraqiya TV reported that ISIS militants have been overtaken outside of Tikrit, but the security forces are still trying to make their way into the city.
Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met with the nation's House of Representatives on Monday to update its members on the new military offensive. He delivered strong remarks against ISIS, saying it was impossible for Iraqis to stay neutral in this war against the extremist group.
The prime minister also met with Iraqi troops a day before in Samarra, a city north of Baghdad on the Tigris River. There, he urged Sunnis to take a stand against ISIS, NPR reports.
U.S.-led airstrikes also continue in Iraq and Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. The Defense Department said on Saturday that an ISIS tactical unit was hit in two airstrikes near Al Hasakah, Syria, destroying a couple of ISIS vehicles. ISIS tactical units, buildings and storage containers were also destroyed in the latest round of airstrikes in the Iraqi cities of Mosul, Asad and Kirkuk.
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