Iraqi government forces raise their weapons as they hold a position on the western outskirts of Tikrit, on March 27, 2015, during a military operation to retake the city from Islamic State group jihadists. Iraqi government forces revived a stalled ground operation to retake Tikrit on March 26, 2015, following US-led air strikes that paved the way but left the anti-jihadist camp deeply divided. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
Iraqi government forces raise their weapons as they hold a position on the western outskirts of Tikrit, on March 27, 2015, during a military operation to retake the city from Islamic State group jihadists. Iraqi government forces revived a stalled ground operation to retake Tikrit on March 26, 2015, following US-led air strikes that paved the way but left the anti-jihadist camp deeply divided. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
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A man from Lancashire who encouraged Islamic extremists to wage jihad in the West, including targeting Prince George and injecting poison in to supermarket ice-cream, has been convicted today (31 May).
Husnain Rashid, 32, posted messages online glorifying successful terrorist atrocities committed by others while encouraging and inciting his readers to plan and commit attacks.
One of his posts included a photograph of Prince George, along with the address of his school, a black silhouette of a jihad fighter and the message ìeven the royal family will not be left aloneî.
His common theme was that attacks could be carried out by one individual acting alone. Rashid suggested perpetrators had the option of using poisons, vehicles, weapons, bombs, chemicals or knives. Rashid uploaded terrorist material to an online library he created with the goal of helping others plan an attack.
He also planned to travel to Turkey and Syria with the intention of fighting in Daesh-controlled territories. He contacted individuals he believed to be in Daesh territory, seeking advice on how to reach Syria and how to obtain the required authorisation necessary to join a fighting group.
Rashid provided one individual who had travelled to Syria and was known online as ìRepunzelî, with information about methods of shooting down aircraft and jamming missile systems.
All the offences relate to Rashidís activities online between October 2016 and his arrest in November 2017.
Rashidís trial started on 23 May at Woolwich Crown Court but he changed his plea to guilty on four counts on 31 May. He will be sentenced on 28 June.
Sue Hemming from the CPS said: ìHusnain Rashid is an extremist who not only sought to encourage others to commit attacks on targets in the West but was planning to travel aboard so he could fight himself.
ìHe tried to argue that he had not done anything illegal but with the overwhelming weight of evidence against him he changed his plea to guilty.
ìThe judge will now deci
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A man from Lancashire who encouraged Islamic extremists to wage jihad in the West, including targeting Prince George and injecting poison in to supermarket ice-cream, has been convicted today (31 May). Husnain Rashid, 32, posted messages online glorifying successful terrorist atrocities committed by others while encouraging and inciting his readers to plan and commit attacks. One of his posts included a photograph of Prince George, along with the address of his school, a black silhouette of a jihad fighter and the message ìeven the royal family will not be left aloneî. His common theme was that attacks could be carried out by one individual acting alone. Rashid suggested perpetrators had the option of using poisons, vehicles, weapons, bombs, chemicals or knives. Rashid uploaded terrorist material to an online library he created with the goal of helping others plan an attack. He also planned to travel to Turkey and Syria with the intention of fighting in Daesh-controlled territories. He contacted individuals he believed to be in Daesh territory, seeking advice on how to reach Syria and how to obtain the required authorisation necessary to join a fighting group. Rashid provided one individual who had travelled to Syria and was known online as ìRepunzelî, with information about methods of shooting down aircraft and jamming missile systems. All the offences relate to Rashidís activities online between October 2016 and his arrest in November 2017. Rashidís trial started on 23 May at Woolwich Crown Court but he changed his plea to guilty on four counts on 31 May. He will be sentenced on 28 June. Sue Hemming from the CPS said: ìHusnain Rashid is an extremist who not only sought to encourage others to commit attacks on targets in the West but was planning to travel aboard so he could fight himself. ìHe tried to argue that he had not done anything illegal but with the overwhelming weight of evidence against him he changed his plea to guilty. ìThe judge will now deci
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FILE - In this undated file photo released by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, militants of the Islamic State group hold up their weapons and wave flags on their vehicles in a convoy on a road leading to Iraq, while riding in Raqqa, Syria. Simultaneous attacks on the Islamic State-held city of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa, the de facto IS capital across the border in eastern Syria, would make military sense: They would make it harder for the extremists to move reinforcements and deny them a safe haven. (Militant website via AP, File)
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(FILES) This image grab taken from a propaganda video released on July 5, 2014 by al-Furqan Media allegedly shows the leader of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aka Caliph Ibrahim, adressing Muslim worshippers at a mosque in the militant-held northern Iraqi city of Mosul. 
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 / AFP PHOTO / AL-FURQAN MEDIA / --/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This image grab taken from a propaganda video released on July 5, 2014 by al-Furqan Media allegedly shows the leader of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aka Caliph Ibrahim, adressing Muslim worshippers at a mosque in the militant-held northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The Russian army on June 16, 2017 said it hit Islamic State leaders in an airstrike in Syria last month and was seeking to verify whether IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed. In a statement, the army said Sukhoi warplanes carried out a 10-minute night-time strike on May 28 at a location near Raqa, where IS leaders had gathered to plan a pullout by militants from the group's stronghold. / AFP PHOTO / AL-FURQAN MEDIA / --/AFP/Getty Images
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Story highlights

NEW: ISIS still has some fighters in Tikrit; joint forces are in clearing operations

Prime Minister says that Tikrit is back under government control

Government has its eyes on a bigger prize with the city of Mosul

(CNN) —  

Iraqi forces battling to wrest Tikrit from ISIS are now in control of the city, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Tuesday on Iraqiya TV.

Al-Abadi, who is also the top military commander, said on state television that the city was liberated.

While al-Abadi has declared victory in the battle, pockets of fighting continues. Iraqi forces and Shiite militias are taking part in clearing operations.

Iraqi forces reached the center of Tikrit and hoisted the nation’s flag on top of the Governorate Building, al-Abadi said. Fighting continued on the outskirts of the city, he added.

Tikrit had been under ISIS control since June.

The push into Tikrit comes days after a series of U.S.-led airstrikes targeted ISIS targets around the city.

The airstrikes made it possible for the Iraqi forces to move through the city. Troops reported finding dozens of roadside bombs and booby-trapped buildings as they combed the city.

At a Cabinet meeting before he declared Tikrit liberated, al-Abadi was already calling the operation a success.

“The success of the Tikrit experiment will be repeated in other areas because of the results it has achieved on the battlefield, on a humanitarian level, protecting civilians as much as possible, in addition to the low casualties amongst our security forces,” he said.

Iraqi forces have tried multiple times to win back Tikrit since ISIS conquered the city as part of its campaign to amass an expansive Islamic caliphate but failed until now. This operation, however, was the biggest by the Iraqi military so far.

“We managed to take (ISIS) by surprise,” the Prime Minister said. “And our air force … in addition to coalition air force, helping Iraqi forces, managed to deal severe blows to ISIS and the enemies of Iraq. And our ground forces with the blood of Iraqis, Iraqis alone with their own blood, were able to liberate this land.”

The latest push began after al-Abadi ordered Iraqi forces on March 1 to retake Tikrit and Salahuddin province.

Militants have been under pressure ever since in the battleground city, which is the birthplace of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and is located about 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Baghdad.

The Iraqi forces were aided by a coalition made up of mostly Shiite militiamen and volunteers.

The militia members, estimated to number around 20,000, are backed by Iran. The offensive marked the first very overt participation of Iranian advisers on the front lines.

The victory in Tikrit sets the stage for Iraqi forces to take back an even bigger prize: Mosul.

Mosul is Iraq’s second-biggest city and the site of one of its military’s biggest embarrassments, when Iraqi troops dropped their weapons and ran rather than defend their posts last June.

A U.S. official said in February that up to 25,000 Iraqi troops plan to return to Mosul in April or May and, ideally, win it back. This comment came days after al-Abadi told the BBC that while there’s still work to do, he felt confident Iraqis could recapture the key northern city.

CNN’s Arwa Damon, Mohammed Tawfeeq, Jason Hanna and Mariano Castillo contributed to this report.