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US mulls air strikes on Tikrit, aids Iraqis with 'eye in the sky'

Iraqi police and Sunni fighters stand on March 22, 2015 at a checkpoint at the entrance of Al-Alam, a flashpoint town north of TikritWashington is considering launching air strikes, possibly within days, to back up Iraqi and Shiite forces battling to recapture Tikrit from the Islamic State jihadist group, US officials said. The statement came Tuesday after an official said the US was already providing reconnaissance support for Iraqi forces there, the first confirmation of American involvement in the operation. A US-led coalition has targeted IS with air strikes and provided training and equipment to Iraqi forces, but had not previously announced direct assistance for the Tikrit operation, in which Iran has played a major role. Possible air strikes near Tikrit are “being discussed at a high level” and could be days or weeks away, a US official told AFP.

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