Iraq's interior minister says security forces are battling the last remaining pockets of Islamic State (Isis) militants in Tikrit, and that he expects them to gain full control of the city "within the coming hours". Mohammed al-Ghabban told reporters in the city on 1 April 2015 that security forces are fighting to clear the last IS stronghold.

"Most of Tikrit today is liberated, only small parts remain (outside our control). We will give you the good news in the next few hours after eliminating the pockets that are still in the city," Ghabban said.

In this photo essay, we look at the progress made by Iraqi forces and Shi'ite fighters as they combat IS militants and attempt to retake Tikrit.

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Iraqi government forces launch rockets towards Islamic State fighters holed up in Tikrit on 28 March 2015Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP
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Shi'ite clerics pray in Tikrit on 28 March 2015 after four Iraqi soldiers were killed in street fighting with Islamic State militantsThaier al-Sudani/Reuters
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An Iraqi bomb disposal officer stands near a damaged house at the southern entrance of the city of Tikrit on 29 March 2015Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP

Hundreds of insurgents ready to fight to the death are still holed up in Salahuddin province's capital city and at least three neighbourhoods remain under Islamic State control, along with a palace complex in the city's north.

With officials touting victory in a month-long battle, state television said Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi was visiting the city, which the Islamist militants captured in June 2014 as they seized most of Iraq's Sunni territories.

Security forces and paramilitary fighters have retaken the governor's headquarters and the main hospital, which had been occupied by IS.

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A member of the Iraqi army carries a rocket as he prepares to launch it towards Islamic State militants in Tikrit on 30 March 2015Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters
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A poster of Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, is seen on the back of a vehicle used by Popular Mobilisation forces, on 30 March 2015Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters
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A member of the Iraqi security forces watches smoke rise from a scene of clashes with Islamic State militants in Tikrit on 30 March 2015Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters

The city's streets are completely abandoned, and buildings scarred by gunfire. The further Iraqi forces push into the city, the greater the risk of ambushes. Iraqi officials suspect the militants have planted scores of bombs and are using snipers and a network of underground tunnels and bunkers to slow the government advance.

Reuters journalists travelling with the police passed houses scarred by bullets, mortars and rockets, as well as five or six corpses that security officers said were IS fighters, adding that they might be rigged with explosives.

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A member of the Iraqi security forces and a Shi'ite paramilitary fighter smile as they stand near the burnt body of an Islamic State militant in Tikrit on 31 March 2015Reuters
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Iraqi security forces and Shi'ite paramilitary fighters look down at the burnt bodies of Islamic State militants in Tikrit on 31 March 2015Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters
battle for Tikrit Isis
Iraqi security forces launch a rocket towards Islamic State militants in Tikrit on 31 March 2015Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters
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Shi'ite fighters from the Popular Mobilisation units celebrate in front of the the provincial council building in Tikrit on 31 March 2015AFP
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Iraqi security forces and Shi'ite paramilitary fighters hold an Islamic State flag that they pulled down in Tikrit, on 31 March 2015Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters
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Shi'ite paramilitary fighters take photos near the Salahuddin Municipality Directorate building in Tikrit on 31 March 2015Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters
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Shi'ite paramilitary fighters inspect a building in Tikrit on 31 March 2015Reuters
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Shi'ite paramilitary fighters drive past a wall painted with the black flag commonly used by Islamic State militants, with the palaces of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein behind them, on 31 March 2015Reuters
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A Shi'ite paramilitary fighter puts Iraqi flags on a wall painted with the black flag commonly used by Islamic State militants in Tikrit on 31 March 2015Reuters
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Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi visits Tikrit after he declared victory in the battle to retake the city from IsisAhmad al-Rubaye/AFP

Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia groups returned to the battle this week after suspending their operations last week, when Abadi requested US-led air strikes.

The militias had opposed US-led strikes, insisting that they could retake the city. The US government has sought ways to participate in the Tikrit battle without acknowledging working with forces backed by Tehran.