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Iraq's Request To U.S.-Led Coalition For Air Strikes For Tikrit Is 'Imminent': Diplomat

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Iraq's request to the U.S.-led coalition for air strikes in the campaign to retake Tikrit from Islamic State insurgents is “imminent”, a senior diplomat from a Western nation that is part of the coalition told Reuters on Tuesday.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Iraq government.

The coalition has been so far absent from the Tikrit campaign launched earlier this month, the largest to be undertaken by Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shi'ite Muslim militia groups since Islamic State overran a third of the country last year.

The diplomat added the strikes in Tikrit would be based on the model in the north where the coalition has carried out air strikes in tandem with the Kurdish pershmerga forces.

“I guess (the strikes) will be targeted against machine gun posts” and strike fighters if they flew to open ground, the diplomat said.

If the coalition accepts the request, the move would see by far the biggest collaboration between Iraqi forces, the Iranian-backed paramilitaries, and the United States and its allies in the fight against the militants.