Islamic Fighters Make Fresh Gains in Iraq

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

BAGHDAD (AP) — Fighters from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have been making additional gains in Iraq -- capturing two towns in an ethnically-mixed province northeast of Baghdad.

And Shiite leaders are calling on Iraqis to defend the country from the Sunni militants who've taken some major cities and other territory. A representative of Iraq's most revered Shiite spiritual leader in Iraq told worshippers in Friday prayers that the country is in "great danger," and that fighting the militants is "everybody's responsibility."

President Barack Obama says he's weighing options for helping Iraq counter the insurgency. But he's warning Iraqi leaders that he won't take military action unless they move to address the country's political troubles.

Meanwhile, the U.N's human rights chief is expressing 'extreme alarm" at reprisal killings, citing reports of hundreds of dead and wounded. She says her office is hearing about "summary executions" -- and that militants rounded up and killed Iraqi army soldiers as well as 17 civilians on a single street in Mosul.

Neighboring Iran is signaling its willingness to confront the growing threat. Iran's official news agency says that country's powerful Revolutionary Guard is ready to fight in Iraq against the militant group.

Iran has built close political and economic ties with postwar Iraq.

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