17 March 2015 BBC MidEast
A senior Kurdish official in Iraq has voiced concern over Iranian-backed Shia Muslim militias fighting with Iraq's army against Islamic State (IS).
Iraqi Kurdistan intelligence chief Masrour Barzani told the BBC the use of such militias could create a bigger problem than IS itself by exacerbating tensions with Sunni Muslims. Some 20,000 militia fighters and 3,000 Iraqi soldiers are trying to oust IS from the city of Tikrit. It is Iraq's biggest offensive so far. However, operations were put on hold on Monday to minimise civilian and military casualties in and around the northern city, Iraqi officials said. They said that IS fighters were now confined to an area of the city centre. Iraq considers Tikrit's recapture as a vital stepping stone to other IS-held territory, including Mosul - the country's second largest city. In a separate development, the tomb of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was almost completely levelled in fighting near Tikrit. Footage filmed by AP news agency shows that all that remains standing of the once-lavish mausoleum in the village of al-Awja is some pillars