Iraq said security and allied forces backed by US-LED coalition aircraft “liberated” the city of Tikrit on Tuesday, it’s biggest victory yet in the fight against Islamic State jihadists. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi “announces the Liberation of Tikrit and congratulates Iraqi security forces and popular volunteers on the historic milestone,” his official twitter account said. He was referring to paramilitary groups which played a major role in the fighting to retake Tikrit, a Sunni Arab city which IS had controlled since it captured swathes of Iraq in June. In a statement to AFP just minutes before Abadi’s tweet, his spokesman Rafid Jaboori said: Iraqi forces reached the center of Tikrit, raised the Iraqi flag and are now clearing the city.” Tikrit, which once had an estimated population of around 200,000, had been largely emptied of civilians by the the government operation was launched at the start of March. The fate of those who who were believed to have remained in the city was unclear Tuesday.