Reports say Iraqi forces have taken a town on the northern edge of Tikrit from the Islamic State (IS) extremist group.
Military commanders and the local mayor said troops and mainly Shi'ite militia captured Al-Alam on March 10, clearing the way for an offensive to retake the city of Tikrit from the militants.
The Iraqi military launched an offensive last week aimed at driving IS militants from Tikrit, seized by the militants in June 2014.
In northern Iraq, the Kirkuk province's security council said Kurdish forces retook around 100 square kilometers from IS fighters, killing 100 of them.
The statement said Peshmerga forces gained control of a strategic junction linking Kirkuk to Mosul, the largest Iraqi city under IS control.
Kurdish forces took control of Kirkuk in August.