The U.S.-led coalition against the extremist group Islamic State (IS) is reportedly providing support for Iraq's operation to retake the town of Tikrit from the militants.
Western news agencies quoted an unidentified senior coalition official as saying on March 24 that the coalition began providing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support on March 21 at the request of the Iraqi government.
The coalition has targeted IS fighters with air strikes and provided training and equipment to Iraqi forces, but this is the first confirmation of its direct involvement in the Tikrit offensive.
The Iraqi military, backed by mainly Shi’ite militia, launched an operation to regain control of Tikrit on March 2.
Tikrit, late former dictator Saddam Hussein's hometown, fell to the militants in June during an offensive in which they seized much of northern Iraq and Syria.
IS fighters trapped in the town's center, have used snipers, booby traps, and bombs to counter the operation against them.