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Concern mounted Wednesday over the fate of civilians in Tikrit where Iraqi forces were trying to trap Islamic State group jihadists on the third day of a huge offensive to retake the city. Around 30,000 security forces and allied fighters launched Monday the biggest anti-IS ground operation yet in Iraq, closing in on Tikrit from at least three directions.
The US economy continued to grow at a fairly moderate rate in recent weeks, despite bad winter weather in some regions, according to a Federal Reserve report released Wednesday. Unseasonably harsh weather had weighed on consumer spending and the housing market in some areas, particularly the Northeast. Fed contacts in the Boston area, hit with record snowfalls, "were fairly upbeat this period, notwithstanding the severe weather," the report said.