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After appearing on the verge of collapse, Iraq’s security forces have stiffened while the insurgent offensive has eased, leading to relative stabilization on the front lines.
The military opened a counteroffensive against the militant-held city of Tikrit more than two weeks ago, but has failed to make any major advance into the city itself.
On Tuesday, officials said government forces began a new push against the city, some 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Baghdad.
"Iraqi security forces on Tuesday launched a military operation to purge Tikrit of militants," said Jawad al-Bolani, a security official in the provincial operation command.
Al-Bolani claimed that troops had taken over the Tikrit general hospital as well as a police academy on the southern edge of the city.
After sundown, two car bombs exploded on a commercial street in the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City in eastern Baghdad, killing at least 13 people and wounding 28, police and medical officials said.
Associated Press writers Ryan Lucas and Murtada Faraj contributed to this report.
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