Maliki Says Operation to Clear Cities of 'Terrorists' Has Begun as Troops Fight Militants North of Baghdad

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Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Friday Iraqi security forces have begun clearing cities of "terrorists" who seized swathes of territory and brought the military to the point of collapse.

Security forces "began their work to clear all our dear cities from these terrorists," Maliki said in a statement.

Maliki spoke from the embattled city of Samarra where he arrived Friday for a security meeting.

Militants attacked the city, located 110 kilometers (70 miles) north of Baghdad, earlier in the week, and witnesses said they were readying for another assault on Friday.

The city houses the revered Shiite al-Askari shrine, which was bombed by militants in 2006, sparking a bloody Sunni-Shiite sectarian war that killed tens of thousands.

A major militant offensive, spearheaded by powerful jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, has overrun all of one province and chunks of three more since Monday.

Security forces have so far failed to halt the push, with some abandoning their vehicles and positions and discarding their uniforms.

Earlier on Friday, Iraqi forces clashed with militants advancing on the city of Baquba, just 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Baghdad.

Security forces were battling militants on the outskirts of Muqdadiyah, 35 kilometers (23 miles) northeast of Baquba, police and army officers said.

Baquba is the capital of Diyala province, whose mixed Arab, Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite population has made it a byword for violence ever since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.

The militants have already captured two provincial capitals this week -- Tikrit in Salaheddin province and second city Mosul in Nineveh.

President Barack Obama said Washington was examining "all the options" to help Iraq's beleaguered security forces resist the offensive, spearheaded by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which began in Mosul late on Monday.

Washington has found rare common cause with its longtime foe Tehran, with both voicing dismay at the Sunni extremists' advance and pledging to boost aid to the Shiite-led government.

ISIL spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani vowed its fighters would press on to the capital and, further south, to the Shiite shrine city of Karbala, visited by millions of pilgrims from around the world each year.

Iraq has meanwhile bolstered Baghdad's defenses as militants near the capital pressing an assault launched in second city Mosul, the interior ministry spokesman said on Friday.

"We put in place a new plan to protect Baghdad," Brigadier General Saad Maan told AFP.

"The plan consists of intensifying the deployment of forces, and increasing intelligence efforts and the use of technology such as (observation) balloons and cameras and other equipment," Maan said.

He said coordination between security forces had also been increased.

"We have been in a war with terrorism for a while, and today the situation is exceptional," Maan said.

Security forces have so far failed to halt ISIL's drive, with some throwing away their uniforms and abandoning vehicles and positions to flee.

Comments 15
Default-user-icon 11124 (Guest) 13 June 2014, 14:24

The Syrians first destabilized the country by opening the Syrian borders to the Palestinians and they came from Syria with the refugees who were stationed in Lebanon. Together they destabilized Lebanon and called it a civil war, but it was not a civil war. They created it (the civil war). That's what we call in military terminology "indirect strategy." You make a problem and then you come to solve it. - Michel Aoun CBN September 12, 2002

The more things change the more they stray the same, Aoun's old quote works for Lebanon and for Iraq.

Missing dubailebanese 13 June 2014, 17:23

This is why Aoun is not fit to be a leader. A nation that doesn't take responsibility for it's own misstakes will never learn. Blaming others is for children, dictators and trouble makers.

Default-user-icon hoorah (Guest) 13 June 2014, 15:12

What did Maliki do with the billions that the Americans and Iranians gave him to invest in the Iraqi army he couldn't have spent more than a fiver including taxes and tips the way they crumbled and fled.

Missing peace 13 June 2014, 15:55

for your question, habib, figure it out yourself...very easy to understand... as you pretend to be smart you should know the answer.... otherwise you are just a retarded empty brain....

Default-user-icon gerd (Guest) 13 June 2014, 16:06

veritas1 the Somalians captured by the Phalangists during the war used to say they thought they were fighting Israel.

Thumb iamymasterscard 13 June 2014, 16:18

Habib, they all flocked to Syria for the same reason the guy in the clip gives to him sand them going to Bosnia, that's what lunatic fundamental Jihadists do, duh!

Thumb Mystic 13 June 2014, 16:20

Very typical you texas, everytime your false theories gets uncovered. Then you build up some new garbage story and keeps going on and on.

ISIL fights for no one, get it into your head. They fight for their so called Khalifah state, if they are fighting for Assad, how come that they are also fighting against the Iranian Quds force now?

Just drop your garbage once and for all, before you ridicule yourself further.

Missing peace 13 June 2014, 17:25

no wonder your brain bugs... it does not fit your propaganda... poor thing.

Thumb Mystic 13 June 2014, 17:41

America is not going to interfeer, they want this chaos to spread. They are finished with the Arab world. No negotiations will take place regarding your theory. Now Lebanon needs the Resistance more than ever.

Missing peace 13 June 2014, 18:20

hey miss tic, stop being afraid like a little virgin... let me reassure you: you have nothing to fear from ISIL as they are your allies!
and sure the "resistance" LOL needs them to justify their actions and idiots like you to believe it!

Thumb Mystic 13 June 2014, 19:41

Only a fool or someone living far away from the middle east, would look away from the ISIL threat. They are not someone to take lightly, so once again you immature comment proofs how ignorant you are Mr. Peace.

Thumb theresistance4.0 13 June 2014, 20:52

@veritas1 "I have seen on an FSA website several videos" WOOOOOOW Ahlif! if u seen it on heir website or on youtube it must be true than! No one is allowed to put up anything thats not true on the youtube/internet everyone knows that Duhhhhh! Its obviously more Shia Takiya going on no doubt with Bashar and Iran pulling the strings and pretending to fight ISIS! Have a nice day Dum Dum :)

Thumb theresistance4.0 13 June 2014, 20:55

Ahlif he's za biggest?!! Say Wallah broooo

Missing peace 14 June 2014, 01:12

hey miss tic... i told you, why are you so afraid of ISIL? you have your glorious resistass to protect you no? so cool down dude! and educate yourself and read a bit more, you'll see how fooled you are by your resistass!

Thumb kanaanljdid 14 June 2014, 08:29

Sunnis extremist are stupid enough not to have strings pulled. We should stop to try to mix everything and to see conspiracy in everything.

Hatred and killings is filthy terrorism: what Sunnis extremists do to Shia in Iraq is dirty, what Shia extremists (Hizbullah) do to others in Syria and Lebanon is dirty, what Hamas do to Jewish civilians is dirty, and so on.

I understand that Shias may feel afraid from Sunnis who didn't treat them for ages, now they want their revenge here or there, but this will never end and sectarian mentality is the ennemy, not people.