The first images of the battle for Tikrit have been released by the Iraqi Defence Ministry.
In the hands of Islamist militants ISIL since early June, the Iraqi forces launched a major offensive to retake the town on Saturday.
Iraqi pilots flew 25 Russian fighter jets for the first time, according to state television, and another batch arrived to help fight the insurgency.
Having declared an Islamic State, the leader of the Al Qaeda offshoot called on all Muslims to travel to Iraq and Syria to join their efforts to build up the self-declared caliphate.
Hopes to form a new government quickly were dashed as Sunnis and Kurds walked out of the first parliamentary session on Tuesday as Shi’ites failed to name a replacement for prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, making the job of holding the fragmented country together even harder.