Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias are fighting to retake the city of Tikrit from Islamic State (Isis) militants. Meanwhile, Kurdish forces have attacked IS positions around the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, backed by heavy air strikes from a US-led coalition.

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters advanced on several fronts to the west of Kirkuk, seizing villages in the Mala Abdullah and Tel Ward areas.

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Kurdish Peshmerga forces inspect a destroyed building belonging to the Islamic State militants on the outskirts of Tel Ward, west of the city of KirkukAko Rasheed/Reuters
kirkuk kurds isis
Kurdish Peshmerga forces inspect a destroyed building belonging to Islamic State militants on the outskirts of Tel Ward, west of KirkukAko Rasheed/Reuters

On Sunday 8 March Iraqi security forces and Shi'ite militia took control of the centre of Dawr, a town on the southern outskirts of Tikrit.

At the time of writing, they are still struggling to drive out militants entrenched in buildings in the western section of the town.

Officials said security forces and Shi'ite militia fighters had also captured about third of the village of Albu Ajil, south of Tikrit.

battle for Tikrit Isis
Shi'ite fighters launch a rocket during clashes with Islamic State militants on the outskirts of al-AlamThaier al-Sudani/Reuters
battle for Tikrit Isis
Shi'ite fighters run past buildings used by Islamic State militants on the outskirts of al-AlamThaier al-Sudani/Reuters
battle for Tikrit Isis
Iraqi police and Shi'ite fighters hold an Islamist State flag, which they pulled down on the outskirts of al-AlamThaier al-Sudani/Reuters
battle for Tikrit Isis
A member of the Iraqi security forces hold an national flag as he perches on a wall painted with the black flag commonly used by Islamic State militants, in the town of Tal Ksaiba, near al-AlamThaier al-Sudani/Reuters
battle for Tikrit Isis
A Shi'ite fighter holds a piece of material bearing the Islamist flag in the village of Albu Ajil, east of TikritAhmad al-Rubaye/AFP
battle for Tikrit Isis
A Shi'ite member of the Iraqi pro-government forces erects a national flag on the outskirts of DawrAhmad al-Rubaye/AFP
battle for Tikrit Isis
A member of the Iraqi security forces prays in the town of Tal Ksaiba, near al-AlamThaier al-Sudani/Reuters
battle for Tikrit Isis
A Shi'ite member of Iraq's Popular Mobilisation units, supporting the government forces in the battle against the Islamic State group, prays in the village of Albu AjilAhmad al-Rubaye/AFP
battle for Tikrit Isis
A member of Iraqi security forces holds a flyer released by Islamic State religious police ordering local residents to close all commercial shops during the daily prayer times otherwise face punishment according to Sharia lawYounis al-Bayati/AFP
battle for Tikrit Isis
Shi'ite fighters and Iraqi security forces advance into the town of Tal Ksaiba, near al-AlamThaier al-Sudani/Reuters
battle for Tikrit Isis
Shi'ite fighters and Iraqi security forces advance into the town of Tal Ksaiba, near al-AlamThaier al-Sudani/Reuters
battle for Tikrit Isis
Shi'ite fighters stands near a wall painted with the black flag commonly used by Islamic State militants in the town of Tal KsaibaThaier al-Sudani/Reuters
battle for Tikrit Isis
A Shi'ite fighter gestures in Tal Ksaiba, near the town of al-AlamThaier al-Sudani/Reuters

The campaign to retake Tikrit is the biggest offensive so far against Islamic State insurgents. If successful, it would be the first time the army and militia have recaptured a major city from the militants.

Progress in the offensive, which was launched a week ago, could also affect the timing and strategy for a wider offensive later this year to retake Mosul, the largest city under Islamic State control.

Tikrit is of special concern because it was the site of one of the Islamic State group's biggest massacres. Last summer Islamic State militants led hundreds of mainly Shi'ite Iraqi soldiers out of a base near Tikrit known as Camp Speicher, lined them up in front of trenches and shot them dead. They published pictures of the mass killing online, boasting about the atrocity.