Iraq’s army is battling to retake Tikrit, after the city fell to ISIL insurgents last month.
In a dawn operation Iraqi armed forces are thought to have launched a multi-pronged assault to oust Islamic militants from the area.
Since ISIL swept across northern Iraq in July, government troops have made little headway reclaiming lost ground.
The violence has already displaced hundreds of thousands, one local from Tal Afar spoke of the devastating impact fighting is having on local areas:
“Islamic militants have forced us out of Tal Afar. They attacked us with missiles. In a single night they fired more than 100 rockets. We were too scared to stay. Our families and children were terrified. Houses were burnt and people died,” said the resident.
Whilst fighting continues on the battlefield Iraq’s parliament has manged to muster some unity, electing a moderate Islamist to the post of house speaker.
The move is widely seen as the first step to electing a new government able stability to the divided country.