The Pentagon warned on Thursday that Iraqi forces battling to reclaim the city of Tikrit are facing a tougher fight against the Islamic State than previously described.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren, speaking to reporters, said that Iraqi forces were now encircling the city of Tikrit, whose capture is seen as a key test of Iraq’s ability to defeat the Islamic State. Warren said the battles lines were now “static” and that Iraqi forces, which include government and militia fighters, had not yet moved into the city proper.

The Iraqi government has declared a pause to the Tikrit offensive and pro-government fighters have taken significant casualties.

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U.S. officials say that reports reports of victory in the battle for the city were premature, and the Pentagon said militants were reinforcing their defenses. Speaking before Congress on Wednesday, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Shiite paramilitary forces had been an important force in Tikrit but had not had as much success as they initially reported.

Warren said that while militia leaders had boasted that victory against the Islamic State was close, “we see now that that’s simply not the case.”

“They have a way to go still,” Warren said. “Urban warfare is difficult.”

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