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Militants who seized large swaths of Iraq’s Sunni heartland with lightning advances this week have pushed into an ethnically mixed province and captured two towns northeast of Baghdad, officials said Friday as neighboring Shiite powerhouse Iran signaled its willingness to confront the growing threat.

The fresh gains by insurgents, spearheaded by fighters from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, come as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government struggles to form a coherent response after the militants blitzed and captured the country’s second-largest city of Mosul, Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, smaller communities, as well as military and police bases — often after meeting little resistance from state security forces.

The fast-moving rebellion, which also draws support from former Saddam-era figures and other disaffected Sunnis, has emerged as the biggest threat to Iraq’s stability since the U.S. withdrawal at the end of 2011. It has pushed the nation closer to a precipice that could partition the country into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish zones.

The assault also threatens to embroil Iraq more deeply in a wider regional conflict, already feeding off the chaos caused by the civil war in neighboring Syria.

Iran’s official IRNA news agency on Friday reported that former members of Tehran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard have announced their readiness to fight in Iraq against the Islamic State, while Iranian state TV quoted President Hassan Rouhani as saying his country will do all it can to fight terrorism next door.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will apply all its efforts on the international and regional levels to confront terrorism,” the Iranian report said Rouhani told al-Maliki by phone.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/sunni-militants-capture-2-towns-near-baghdad

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Posted June 13, 2014 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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