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Iraqi Forces Claim To Retake Strategic Town Near Tikrit

State media says Iraqi government forces retook the strategic town of Dur from Islamic State (IS) militants on March 6, the fifth day of a major offensive against the extremist group.

Al-Iraqiya television said the troops backed by Shi'ite militiamen and Sunni tribal fighters killed dozens of militants in the battle for Dur located on the outskirts of former dictator Saddam Hussain's home city of Tikrit.

Military commanders said Dur had been "totally liberated" and that the advance on another key town, al-Alam, would take place on March 7.The claim cannot be independently verified.

Iraqi troops began a large-scale operation against IS militants in northern Iraq on March 2. The focus of the offensive is to regain Tikrit, seized by the IS group in June.

The recapture of Tikrit would enable Iraqi troops to use it as a launching pad for any onslaught to retake Mosul, Iraq's second largest city.

Based on reporting by dpa and Reuters