U.S. warplanes are now conducting airstrikes in support of Iraqi efforts to take the city of Tikrit from the terror group ISIS, the U.S. military said Wednesday.
The airstrikes are “ongoing,” according to a defense Department official. The U.S. military got involved in the offensive to take control of Saddam Hussein’s hometown at the request of Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, the military said in a statement.
“These strikes are intended to destroy ISIL (ISIS) strongholds with precision, thereby saving innocent Iraqi lives while minimizing collateral damage to infrastructure,” said Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, commanding general of a U.S.-led coalition against ISIS.
“This will further enable Iraqi forces under Iraqi command to maneuver and defeat (ISIS) in the vicinity of Tikrit,” Terry said in a written statement.
Defense Department officials conceded that the majority of forces trying to drive ISIS from Tikrit are Iranian-backed militia members.
The offensive to retake Tikrit has been described as stalled in recent days. The task force said in a statement that Iraqi-led forces have the city surrounded.
This article originally appeared on NBCNews.com.