• IS readies for Tikrit last stand but ‘expands’ to Nigeria

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    ALBU AJIL, Iraq: Thousands of Iraqi forces have laid siege to jihadists holed up in Tikrit but the Islamic State (IS) group shrugged off setbacks by welcoming Nigeria’s Boko Haram group into its “caliphate.” After making major gains in and around the city on Wednesday, commanders were confident that Baghdad’s biggest victory yet against IS was only a matter of time. “Now we are moving to the second phase of our plan,” Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi told reporters in Salaheddin province, of which Tikrit is the capital. AFP

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