Iraq has launched a military operation to regain control of the key city of Tikrit, 87 miles northwest of Baghdad, from the Islamic State (IS).

Iraqi media reports that Iraqi ground forces are supported by Iraqi air strikes in the largest operation yet mounted to regain territory from IS.

Tikrit, the birthplace of ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, fell to IS in June 2014, the day after the fall of Mosul, as IS militants swept into Iraq from Syria and declared an Islamic State.

Prime Minister Haiser al-Abadi offered to pardon all Sunni tribal fighters who abandoned IS before the campaign, describing the offer as a “last chance”.

Elsewhere, Kurdish Peshmerga forces have made progress retaking towns and villages around Mosul, the largest city under IS control.

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