Iraqi offensive for Tikrit stalls as Islamic State inflicts casualties

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NAJAF, Iraq — The Iraqi forces’ operation to retake the city of Tikrit has stalled as troops suffer heavy casualties at the hands of Islamic State militants, raising concerns over whether the pro-government fighters are ready for major offensives. After two days of little activity on the battlefield, Iraq’s interior minister, Mohammed al-Ghabban, confirmed on Monday that the offensive has “temporarily stopped.” The steady flow of caskets arriving in Iraq’s Shiite holy city of Najaf suggests a reason for the pause; cemetery workers say as many as 60 war dead have been arriving each day. Since last week, Iraqi forces have hemmed in the Sunni militants in Tikrit, claiming control of…

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