US worried about deteriorating crisis in Iraq–offers help

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The United States has expressed concern over the
deteriorating security situation in Iraq and pledged “any appropriate assistance” to
the Iraqi government.

The State Department’s statement came after on June 11 fighters from the Islamic
State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an Al-Qaeda splinter group, seized the central
city of Tikrit, one day after capturing Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington is committed to “working
with the Iraqi government and leaders across Iraq to support a unified approach
against ISIL’s continued aggression.”

Tikrit, the capital of Salaheddin Province, lies roughly halfway between Baghdad and
Mosul.

Turkey called for an emergency NATO meeting after ISIL militants seized 80 Turkish
nationals in Mosul. Turkey also warned of retaliation if any of its nationals, including
diplomats, special forces soldiers, and children, were harmed.

The militants seized 49 people from the Turkish consulate in Mosul on June 11, one
day after they abducted 31 Turkish truck drivers.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has called Mosul’s fall to the militants a “conspiracy” and
vowed to regain control of the city by force. He also said that the military
commanders who retreated “must be punished.”

As the militants overran Mosul on June 10, members of the security forces reportedly
removed their uniforms and joined residents in fleeing the city. Some 500,000 people
are believed to have fled Mosul, a city of 2 million residents. The Iraqi parliament is
due to meet on June 12 to debate Maliki’s request for a state of emergency.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Baghdad will cooperate with the Peshmerga,
the large and disciplined military force of the semiautonomous Kurdish region, to drive
the militants out of Mosul, but he did not provide details on possible cooperation.

ISIL fighters have been holding parts of Ramadi, the capital of western Anbar
Province, and much of the nearby city of Fallujah since early January.

ISIL, which also controls the northeastern Syrian Province of Al-Raqqa, wants to
establish an Islamic state in areas on the two sides of the border.

Source: Radio Free Europe

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