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Iraqi forces mount operation against Islamic State in Tikrit

Ahmad Al-Rubaye | AFP | Getty Images

Iraqi forces launched an operation on Tuesday to drive Islamic State militants out of Tikrit, hometown of executed former dictator Saddam Hussein, officers in the operations room told Reuters.

They were advancing rapidly from the south but were slowed by landmines, roadside bombs and snipers in the west, said an army major and a police captain.

Read MoreUS conducts airstrikes in Iraq near Irbil and Mosul

Iraqi and Kurdish forces have been encouraged by the first U.S. air strikes in the country - launched against the hardline Sunni insurgents - since American troops withdrew in 2011.

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