Shi'ite fighters launch a rocket towards Islamic State militants during heavy fighting in Salahuddin province, March 4, 2015.REUTERS/ Mahmoud Raouf
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ISIS militants have set fire to oil wells northeast of the city of Tikrit to obstruct an assault by Shiite militiamen and Iraqi soldiers trying to drive them from the city and surrounding towns, a witness said.The witness and a military source said ISIS fighters ignited the fire at the Ajil oil field to shield themselves from attack by Iraqi military helicopters, which are taking part in the biggest offensive against ISIS after its seizure of wide swaths of Iraq last year. Black smoke could be seen rising from the oil field since Wednesday afternoon, said the witness, who accompanied Iraqi militia and soldiers as they advanced on Tikrit from the east. The army, backed by Shiite militia and Kurdish peshmerga fighters, has yet to reconquer and secure any city held by ISIS, despite seven months of airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition, as well as weapons supplies and strategic support from Iran.
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