"The Sunni-dominated Tikrit city, the hometown of former president Saddam Hussein, has been in the gunmen's hands since Wednesday."
Baghdad, June 14 - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki vowed to defeat the insurgent groups as troops and volunteers gathered in Samarra city to fight the militants trying to march toward capital city Baghdad.

Samarra is not the last line, but it will be a gathering point and a launch pad to clear all areas, Xinhua quoted Maliki as saying in a speech broadcast Saturday, made during his visit to Samarra late Friday.

Hundreds of thousands of volunteers are with you. It is only hours to the volunteers to arrive to support the security forces in their war against the gangs of Daash (Arabic first letters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant ISIL), Maliki said at a meeting with military officers and provincial officials late Friday.

Thousands of volunteers responded to a call by the country 's most revered Shiite cleric in Iraq Grand Ayatollah Ali al- Sistani, who called on Iraqis Friday to take up arms for defending their country against insurgent groups.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi security forces Saturday re-took control of three towns in Salahudin province lying north of Baghdad, while troops were also being deployed in Tikrit city in the south for a military offensive later, a provincial police source said.

The troops backed by residents of Ishaqi town, 90 km from Baghdad, clashed with the militant groups and recaptured the town earlier seized by them, a source said.

Security forces also attacked the nearby town of al- Mu'tasim, 100 km from Baghdad, and seized it from the militants' control, the source added.

The Sunni-dominated Tikrit city, the hometown of former president Saddam Hussein, has been in the gunmen's hands since Wednesday.

The deterioration in the security situation in Iraq started last week when bloody clashes broke out between the Iraqi security forces and hundreds of gunmen who took control of several neighbourhoods in Mosul and expanded later to other areas and provinces as Iraqi forces withdrew from the city.


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