US general: Iran-backed Shiite militias not in Tikrit fight

March 26, 2015 6:23 PM

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Iranian-backed Shiite militias have left the northern Iraq city of Tikrit, a key condition the U.S. demanded before it agreed to begin launching airstrikes Wednesday to support Iraqi forces and try to retake the city from the Islamic State group, the top U.S. general for the Middle East said Thursday.

Army Gen. Lloyd Austin appeared to stun Senate Armed Services Committee members with that development during a morning hearing, telling the panel that the ground offensive in Tikrit led by Shiite militias, with help from Iran, had stalled.

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