UN says 28,000 flee drive to retake Iraq's Tikrit

A member of the Popular Mobilisation unit monitors the city of Tikrit, Iraq, from his position in the village of Awja on March 5, 2015Some 28,000 people have fled the Tikrit area as Iraqi forces battle the Islamic State jihadist group in a massive offensive aimed at retaking the city, the UN said Thursday. “Military operations in and around Tikrit have precipitated displacement of an estimated 28,000 people to Samarra,” the UN said in a statement. Some 30,000 Iraqi security forces members and allied fighters launched the operation to retake Tikrit on Monday, the largest of its kind since IS forces overran swathes of territory last June. Retaking Tikrit, the hometown of now-executed president Saddam Hussein, from militants who have had over eight months to dig in poses a major challenge for the country’s forces.

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