Iraqi lawmakers have elected a new parliament speaker, the first step toward forming a new government.
Sunni lawmaker Salim al-Juburi was elected on July 15 with 194 votes in the 328-seat parliament.
An informal agreement gives the speaker's post to a Sunni, the presidency to a Kurd, and the prime minister's post to a Shi'a.
Parliament is under domestic and international pressure to move quickly to fill all three posts and form a new government to be better prepared to fight Sunni militants who have seized large parts of the country.
U.S. officials including Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated Iraqi leaders and urged a rapid follow-up.
Meanwhile, Iraqi government forces have launched an attack on the militant-held northern city of Tikrit in a bid to recapture the city.
The operation is the second offensive launched by government forces since Sunni extremists from the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), seized several cities in northern Iraq in June.
Army officials say the attack on July 15 began with an assault on the city from its northern and southern entrances.
Iraqi authorities say some government troops had advanced into southern parts of Tikrit by midday local time, recapturing government facilities there, including a hospital, a police academy, and Salah al-Din Province’s administrative headquarters.
Iraq forces began a major operation to retake Tikrit more than two weeks ago, but the advance stalled on the south side of the city, which is the hometown of executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
On July 14, government forces and allied militia fighters were trying to dislodge militants who had seized the nearby town of Duluiyah, about 80 kilometers north of Baghdad.
The Iraqi military says it has pushed militants from part of Duluiyah, but they remained inside key government offices overnight.
With reporting by AP, dpa, and AFP