The Iraqi army has said its strategy for retaking the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group’s stronghold of Tikrit is to surround the city before launching an assault.

A senior commander said on Wednesday that operations were currently focused on preventing ISIL from launching more attacks and cutting supply lines to stop reinforcements and weapons from reaching Tikrit.

The next step will be to “surround the towns completely, suffocate them and then pounce on them,” Lieutenant General Abdel Amir al-Zaidi told the AFP news agency.

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