Kurdish fighters have clashed with Islamist insurgents. The Peshmerga troops have been defending the oil town of Kirkuk after the Iraqi army abandoned positions last week.
Government forces have regrouped in parts and claim to have repelled an attempt by the Sunni militants to seize Baquba in a bloody battle close to Baghdad.
Late on Tuesday Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki broadcast a joint appeal for national unity.
In the face of the rapid advance of the Sunni militants there appears to be a scramble to form alliances but will that include the Kurds?
Minister for Coordination in Kurdistan region, Qubad Talabani:
“We have not had any formal discussions with any groups. Again, we’re fulfilling our obligations to protect out citizens. We are seeing the conflict moving away from Kurdistan. The conflict target seems to be Baghdad.”
But its the Iraqi Kurds who appear to be the most organised.
They are taking in thousands of refugees including those from the city of Tal Afar which fell on Monday.
With them come tales of atrocities by the Sunni militants, who have themselves claimed to have killed hundreds of captured Shi’ites.