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Iraq takes first step toward new government
Legislature » After two delays, speaker of parliament elected.


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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.

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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.

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Associated Press writers Ryan Lucas and Murtada Faraj contributed to this report.




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