At least 11 Iraqi army forces have been killed in a truck bomb attack south of the city of Tikrit, as efforts are underway to liberate the militant-held region, Press TV reported.
The attack on Saturday targeted Iraqi forces near Sur Shnas, a town between Samarra and Tikrit in Salahuddin Province north of the capital Baghdad.
"Three ... bombers driving tanker trucks sped towards a gathering of security forces at a checkpoint," said an army lieutenant colonel on condition of anonymity, adding, "Security forces opened fire, managed to stop two but the third got closer to the group and blew himself up."
Hospital sources have also confirmed the deaths.
The Iraqi forces attacked in the incident were preparing an operation to liberate Tikrit which has been under control of the ISIL Takfiri militants since June, 2014.
Iraqi volunteer forces, known as the Popular Mobilization Units or Badr forces, will contribute to the large operation which is expected to begin soon.
The commander of the Badr organization, Hadi al-Ameri (pictured below), issued an ultimatum Saturday, calling on people in the city to leave their homes as the operation looms.
"We call on the people of Tikrit to leave their city within 48 hours to wrap up the battle of the revenge for Speicher," said Ameri.
Speicher is a military base near Tikrit from which hundreds of soldiers and military officers were kidnapped and then executed by ISIL in June.
ISIL terrorists have suffered huge losses over the past months in the face of successful operations by the Iraqi army and volunteer forces, but the Takfiris still control part of the country. The terrorist group has been also dealt setbacks in the neighboring Syria, where it has been engaged in a brutal massacre of civilians and government forces over the past four years.