Iraqi forces making gains against ISIS - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Iraqi forces making gains against ISIS

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IRAQ (CBS) - There's a new surge by Iraq's troops after weeks of retreat. Government backed soldiers are making their big move in Tikrit, hoping to take it back from Islamic militants.

The fighting is fierce in Sadam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. Government soldiers are waging an air and ground assault on Sunni militants there, as they try to reclaim key cities that have fallen to ISIS militants over the past three weeks.

Saturday, military officials said their commandoes, backed by tanks and helicopter gunships reached the outskirts and even entered Tikrit. But residents said militants were still in control at nightfall.

A victory in Tikrit would give the Iraqi military a strategic advantage by cutting off one of the major routes to Baghdad.

And it would boost Iraqi forces' morale. The government is portraying its advances in Tikrit as a significant step forward after two weeks of defeats at the hands of militants.

South of Baghdad, heavy clashes between security forces and Sunni insurgents killed dozens of militants and at least 21 Iraqi troops.

U.S. allies in the middle east are pushing for strikes against ISIS rebels at bases in Syria. That's something President Obama is said to have avoided for several years.

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