World

Iraq state TV: Large-scale military operation to recapture Saddam Hussein's hometown begins

  • FILE - In this Sunday, April 13, 2003 file photo, a statue of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is seen as the streets are nearly deserted in central Tikrit, Iraq. Backed by allied Shiite and Sunni fighters, Iraqi security forces on Monday began a large-scale military operation to recapture Saddam Hussein’s hometown from the Islamic State extremist group, state TV said, a major step in a campaign to reclaim a large swath of territory in northern Iraq controlled by the militants. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer, File)

    FILE - In this Sunday, April 13, 2003 file photo, a statue of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is seen as the streets are nearly deserted in central Tikrit, Iraq. Backed by allied Shiite and Sunni fighters, Iraqi security forces on Monday began a large-scale military operation to recapture Saddam Hussein’s hometown from the Islamic State extremist group, state TV said, a major step in a campaign to reclaim a large swath of territory in northern Iraq controlled by the militants. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • ISLAMIC STATE 022815: Map shows the spread of the Islamic State; 2c x 4 inches; with any related stories; ETA 3 p.m. ; 2c x 4 inches; 96.3 mm x 101 mm;

    ISLAMIC STATE 022815: Map shows the spread of the Islamic State; 2c x 4 inches; with any related stories; ETA 3 p.m. ; 2c x 4 inches; 96.3 mm x 101 mm;  (The Associated Press)

  • Iraqi Hezbollah fighters carry the coffin of their comrade, Ali Mansour, who his family says was killed in Tikrit fighting Islamic militants, during his funeral procession, in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, March 2, 2015. Backed by allied Shiite and Sunni fighters, Iraqi security forces on Monday began a large-scale military operation to recapture Saddam Hussein's hometown from the Islamic State extremist group, state TV said, a major step in a campaign to reclaim a large swath of territory in northern Iraq controlled by the militants. (AP Photo/Jaber al-Helo)

    Iraqi Hezbollah fighters carry the coffin of their comrade, Ali Mansour, who his family says was killed in Tikrit fighting Islamic militants, during his funeral procession, in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, March 2, 2015. Backed by allied Shiite and Sunni fighters, Iraqi security forces on Monday began a large-scale military operation to recapture Saddam Hussein's hometown from the Islamic State extremist group, state TV said, a major step in a campaign to reclaim a large swath of territory in northern Iraq controlled by the militants. (AP Photo/Jaber al-Helo)  (The Associated Press)

Iraq's state TV says government forces backed by allied Shiite and Sunni fighters have begun a large-scale military operation to recapture Saddam Hussein's hometown from the Islamic State extremist group.

Al-Iraqiya television said Monday that the forces were attacking the city of Tikrit, backed by artillery and airstrikes by Iraqi fighter jets. It said the militants were dislodged from some areas outside the city, but gave no details.

Hours ahead of the operation, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called on Sunni tribal fighters to abandon the extremist group, promising them a pardon.

Tikrit, some 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Baghdad, fell into the hands of the Islamic State group last summer along with the country's second-largest city of Mosul and other areas in Sunni heartland.