US and coalition forces carried out air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis) fighters in Tikrit on 28 March, according to the US military.

The attempt to retake Tikrit, a major Sunni-majority city in northern Iraq, started in early this month but had not been supported by the international coalition until air strikes started on 25 March.

Iraq’s initial assault on the Tikrit area used a force of at least 20,000 fighters, including Shia militias, Iraq Security Forces (ISF) and Sunni tribal groups.

The US military claims that 18 air strikes were conducted over a 24-hour period, destroying 11 Isis fighting positions and hitting three fighting and tactical units.

“From what I understand, Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi made the request. However, we respect his decision,” said Hadi al-Ameri the most senior commander among the Shia paramilitary groups attempting to retake Tikrit.

The US-backed coalition against Isis in Iraq incudes several European powers along with regional players Turkey, Jordan and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of northern Iraq.

GCC powers Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have limited their support for the coalition to operations in Syria.

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