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Iraqi security forces wage airborne attack on militant-seized Tikrit

The Iraqi security forces carried out an airborne attack on the militant-seized city of Tikrit, the capital of Salahudin province, and took control of the city's university on Thursday, a provincial police official said.

The attack occurred around noon when army helicopters dropped dozens of soldiers inside the university compound, a strategic location in al-Qadsiyah district and a military base to the northern Tikrit, the source said on condition of anonymity.

The troops first seized the compound without clashes as there were no militants inside, but later fierce clashes erupted between the troops backed by air support and the militants in four nearby villages and the al-Qadsiyah district, the source said.

A woman was killed and two others were wounded by the bombardment on the district, while two of the university teachers were wounded by a mortar round which landed on their homes in the residential area inside the university compound, the source said.

The seizure of the university compound is a vital move by the security forces as it is the first foothold for the troops in Tikrit, the source added.

On June 11, militant groups took control of the city of Tikrit when hundreds of gunmen entered the city during the advance of the Sunni militants, including those who are linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL), an al-Qaida offshoot.

Salahudin province is a Sunni-dominated province and its capital Tikrit is the hometown of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

[Source: Xinhua, Tinrik, 26Jun14]

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