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Iraqi government forces try to recapture Tikrit

Iraqi government forces continue an offensive operation to retake areas seized by Sunni insurgents. But they are facing fierce resistance.

Iraqi government troops continued their efforts on Sunday to encircle and retake the northern city of Tikrit.

But the rebels have the support of local Sunni tribes opposed to the Shia-centered Nuri al-Maliki administration in Baghdad.

They also have the backing of supporters of former President Saddam Hussein.

A Tikrit resident told NHK that the Sunni insurgents are in control of the entire city and have kept government forces from entering the town.
Meanwhile, religious sects and tribes are increasingly trying to find an alternative to the leadership of Prime Minister Maliki who is under pressure, from both within and outside Iraq, to step down.

The Iraqi parliament is scheduled to convene on Tuesday. But attempts to form a unity government are proving to be a big challenge, one that's expected to take more time.

Jun. 29, 2014 - Updated 22:37 UTC