Reports from Iraq say fierce fighting has taken place around Tikrit on the second day of a military operation to recapture late dictator Saddam Hussein's hometown from Islamic State (IS) militants.
The government mobilized a 30,000-strong force for the operation, including troops, Shi’ite militia, and Sunni Arab fighters backed by artillery and air strikes by Iraqi jets.
Fierce clashes occurred on March 3 mainly outside the village of Al-Dour, south of Tikrit.
Battles were reported also reported inside the city, including in Al-Zuhur and Qadisiya districts.
But officers said the government advance was slowed by snipers and roadside bombs.
Qassem Soleimani, commander of the elite Al-Quds force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, was reportedly in the area to help coordinate operations.
The offensive is part of a campaign to drive IS militants out of the mainly Sunni Arab province of Salahuddin.
Based on reporting by AP and AFP