Iraq said security and allied forces backed by US-led coalition aircraft "liberated" the city of Tikrit on Tuesday, its biggest victory yet in the fight against Islamic State jihadists. The operation to retake the hometown of former president Saddam Hussein began on March 2 and had looked bogged down before Iraqi forces made rapid advances in the past 48 hours. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi "announces the liberation of Tikrit and congratulates Iraqi security forces and popular volunteers on the historic milestone," his official Twitter account said. He was referring to paramilitary groups which played a major role in the fighting to retake Tikrit, a Sunni Arab city which IS had controlled since it captured swathes of Iraq in June.
Two hostage-takers were killed and the prosecutor they were holding badly wounded Tuesday after security forces launched an operation to end a six-hour standoff in Istanbul, a top security official said. Istanbul prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz was immediately hospitalised after being badly wounded but both men who had held him hostage were killed, Istanbul security director Selami Altinok told reporters outside the courthouse. The authorities had earlier been negotiating with the hostage-takers but Altinok said the decision to go in was taken when gunfire was heard during phone communications with the captors.