BAGHDAD: Iraqi officials say families have begun returning to Tikrit two and a half months after security forces backed by Shiite militias drove the Islamic State group out of the northern Sunni city.
Gov. Raed al-Jabouri of Salahuddin province told The Associated Press on Tuesday that around 200 families had returned the day before. Al-Jabouri says more than 1,000 families are expected to return Thursday.
State TV aired footage of security forces guarding busses packed with people, some waving Iraqi flags. Some residents could be seen embracing security forces when they reached Tikrit.
The IS group captured Tikrit last summer during its sweep across the country. Iraqi forces managed to retake it following weeks of intense fighting and U.S.-led airstrikes, marking their biggest gain yet against the extremist group.