Hundreds of people displaced from the Iraqi city of Tikrit started to return home on Monday, three months after pro-government forces recaptured former president Saddam Hussein’s hometown from Islamic State militants.
Supported by Shi’ite militiamen and U.S.-led air strikes, government forces dislodged the insurgents from Tikrit in April after a month-long battle. The city has been largely deserted since then.
A local official and a source in the operations command for Salahuddin province said the government had chartered buses to transport more than 300 families back to Tikrit from the tented encampments where they have been staying.
Convoys of 50 families, escorted by police for protection, were heading towards Tikrit from the city of Samarra to the south and Kirkuk in the north.
The militants captured Tikrit, about 140 km (90 miles) north of Baghdad, last June as they swept through most of Iraq’s Sunni Muslim territories, swatting aside a demoralized and disorganized army that has now required an uneasy combination of Iranian and American support to get back on its feet.