Sun, Jun 29, 2014 - Page 5 News List

US drones over Baghdad as Iraq fights for Tikrit

AFP, BAGHDAD

“We have been patient for 10 years with the [Iraqi] federal government to solve the problems of these [disputed] areas,” Barzani said.

“There were Iraqi forces in these areas, and then there was a security vacuum, and Peshmerga forces went to fill this vacuum.”

Meanwhile, top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani urged Iraqi leaders to unite and form a government quickly after parliament convenes on Tuesday.

Al-Sistani’s remarks echoed those of British Foreign Secretary William Hague and US Secretary of State John Kerry, who visited Jeddah as Washington unveiled a US$500 million plan to arm and train moderate Syrian Sunni rebels to help fight the ISIL-led militants.

On Thursday, al-Maliki, who has publicly focused on a military response to the crisis, said political measures were also necessary, ahead of Tuesday opening of the parliament elected on April 30.

Iraq has also appealed for US air strikes against the militants, but Washington has offered up to 300 military advisers.

Washington has stopped short of saying al-Maliki must go, but has left little doubt it feels he has squandered the opportunity to rebuild Iraq since US troops withdrew in 2011.

Mortar fire south of Baghdad on Friday killed at least five people, while shelling and clashes in Diyala province to the northeast killed 10 more, four of them soldiers.

Al-Maliki’s security spokesman has said hundreds of soldiers have been killed since the offensive began, while the UN puts the overall death toll at nearly 1,100.

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