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Al-Qaida-inspired militants effectively seized control of Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit on Wednesday, expanding their offensive closer to the Iraqi capital. Iraqi soldiers and security forces abandoned their posts following clashes with the insurgents. Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant took control a day earlier of much of Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, in a major blow to the authority of the country’s Shiite government and a sign of Iraq’s reversals since U.S. forces withdrew in late 2011.

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