(AGI) Rome, March 12 - ISIS militia in Iraq used chlorine gasfor their attacks with bombs hidden along the road to Tikrit,the city where the Baghdad army has begun their offensive. Thiswas confirmed by Iraqi authorities, according to videosreleased on the BBC website. The blasts from the chlorinedevices release an orange coloured smoke, which can be clearlyseen in the videos. According to Iraqi experts, the chemicalagent is used to scare the population and the debombing agentsrather than to cause damage. The chlorine is used in modestquantities, and exploding the devices would not be lethal.Information about the use of these devices by militia has beencirculating since last year, but only now have Iraqi officersconfirmed their use. Six weeks ago, Iraqi debombers caused theexplosion of a device without knowing it contained chemicalagents. "We felt a burning sensation in our throats and it washard to breathe. An ambulance which was in the area saved us,"said Haider Taher, a local official. Despite three-quarters ofTikrit being back in government hands, the Iraqi troops andShiite militia's advance into Saddam Hussein's hometown hasbeen slowed by snipers hiding in the abandoned buildings and bymines placed by jihadists in the city. Baghdad Defense MinisterKhaled al Obeidi, who went to visit the province of Salah alDin, warned that the next few hours will be 'crucial' and 'theoperation has reached all the set goals.' The minister alsoconfirmed that in the the latest offensive, a major role isbeing played by the Shiite Militia and the pro-governmentSunnite armed groups. A Samarra Operations Command source ofthe province of Salah al Din reported that Iraqi forces haveconquered the industrial area and Celebrations Square, near thecity centre. The strongest clashes are taking place near thatsquare and in the vicinity of the presidential palace, in theneighbourhood of al-Zuhur. Since last June, when jihadistsconquered the city in an offensive that was halted about 10kilometres from Baghdad, the presidential palace has been usedas the headquarters of their operations. In the meantime, theUnited States has asked the Iraqi government for a three-dayceasefire to enable the civilians still in the city to leave.(AGI).