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Riga (AFP) - Latvian MEP Sandra Kalniete who planned to attend the funeral of slain Russian opposition activist Boris Nemtsov said Monday she had been refused entry into Russia at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport.
Some 30,000 Iraqi troops and militia backed by aircraft pounded jihadists in and around Tikrit on Monday in the biggest offensive yet to retake one of the Islamic State group's main strongholds. Government forces have battled their way north for months, notching up key victories against IS, but Tikrit has been their toughest target yet with the jihadists having resisted them several times. Commanders voiced hope the operation would be a step towards the recapture of Mosul, the jihadists' main hub in Iraq. "The army, federal police, Popular Mobilisation (volunteer) units, and the sons of Salaheddin's tribes are performing the duties of liberation in the largest operation against Daesh since June," said a senior army officer on the ground, using an Arabic acronym for IS.