Shiite fighters sit in front of a tank during deployments in the town of Hamrin in Salahuddin province March 3, 2015. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
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Iraqi forces tried for a third day to close in on ISIS in Tikrit, as the top U.S. military officer said Iran's role in the offensive could be positive, provided the battle did not become sectarian.Around 30,000 security forces and allied fighters Monday launched the biggest anti-ISIS ground operation yet in Iraq, closing in on Tikrit from at least three directions. Zaidi said the operation had already secured areas further out in Salahuddin province and forcing ISIS fighters to regroup in urban areas.General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told senators late Tuesday the battle for Tikrit represented the most open example of Iranian support for pro-government militias in Iraq.U.S. commanders rarely discuss Iran's activities in Iraq in public, stressing that Washington does not coordinate with Tehran's military in any way – even though the two foes see ISIS as a common enemy.Gen. Qassem Suleimani, head of Iran's powerful Quds force, is reportedly on the ground with Shiite fighters coordinating the operation on Tikrit.
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