American officials say Washington has been in discussions with the Iraqi government on the possibility of U.S. airstrikes to support the Iraqi ground offensive against a dug-in Islamic State group in Tikrit.
The talks raise the highly sensitive issue of U.S. air support for an offensive spearheaded by Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite militias. The Pentagon on Tuesday said the Iraqi offensive had “stalled.”
The U.S. has said it is not coordinating any military actions with the Iranians.
Two U.S. officials confirmed the talks about possible U.S. airstrikes. They were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly on the record and so were granted anonymity.
On Tuesday, other officials said that at Baghdad’s request the U.S.-led coalition had begun aerial surveillance over Tikrit and is sharing the collected intelligence with the Iraqi government.
Update: The U.S. will shortly begin air strikes in Tikrit, Iraq, CBS News reports. A U.S.-led coalition will help Iraqi forces capture Tikrit from the Islamic State group.