Members of Iraqi security forces take positions during a patrol looking for militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria west of Karbala June 29, 2014. (REUTERS/Mushtaq Muhammed)
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Iraqi helicopter gunships struck suspected insurgent positions in Tikrit Sunday as part of a government offensive to retake the northern city from Sunni militants led by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), residents and officials said.The Iraqi military opened its campaign to wrest back Tikrit, the hometown of former dictator Saddam Hussein, on Saturday with a multi-pronged assault spearheaded by ground troops backed by tanks and helicopters.Muhanad Saif al-Din, who lives in the city center, said he could see smoke rising from Qadissiyah, which borders the University of Tikrit, where troops brought by helicopter established a bridgehead two days ago. He said many of the militants in Tikrit had deployed to the city's outskirts, apparently to blunt the military attack.The planes could be deployed in the fight for Tikrit, a predominantly Sunni city of more than 200,000 some 130 kilometers north of Baghdad, where anger toward Iraq's Shiite-led government runs deep.
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