By Bernie Becker - 06/28/14 09:37 AM EDT
Iraqi troops went on the offensive on Saturday, trying to take back a key city from Sunni militants.
The operation aimed at Tikrit, the hometown of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, included gunships, helicopters and tanks, according to the Associated Press.
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militants seized control of Tikrit and other urban centers in the northern part of the country, such as Mosul, in recent weeks. Shiite volunteers and Sunni supporters of the government joined the offensive against Tikrit.
CNN reported Saturday that some government supporters had said the troops had retaken the city, while others were saying that fighting was ongoing. The government also launched airstrikes on Mosul, CNN said.
Many of Tikrit’s residents fled the city in advance of the fighting, the AP reported.