Police forces are lying in wait, ready to defend Baghdad from the threat of Islamist militant group ISIL who are believed to be just an hour’s drive away from the Iraqi capital.
It comes amid reports that a major offensive is underway in Tikrit to recapture the town from the insurgents.
In the past two weeks the members of the Al-Qaeda offshoot have seized many majority Sunni towns in the north and west of the country, creating a political and humanitarian crisis.
Families fleeing the violence set up camp on the outside of Kirkuk in the largely autonomous Kurdish region.
Many said they left to escape continuous shelling.
Attempting to diffuse the crisis, Iraq’s most influential Shi’ite cleric called for a new prime minister to be named by Tuesday, which would herald the end of Nouri al Maliki’s eight years in office.
The US has so far ruled out sending troops, but has sent 300 advisers to assist in the fight against ISIL.