As the West weighs ups its next move in tackling Islamic State, on the frontline Kurdish forces are battling to oust the Sunni jihadists from two towns in northern Iraq.
Along with government forces, the Peshmerga are trying to recapture Jalawla and Saadiya, both near the Iranian border.
It follows their success in retaking the strategically crucial Mosul dam, with American air support and with Western weapons now being sent in to help.
The US is pursuing its air strikes despite Islamic State’s threat to murder a second American hostage, a warning made in its video of the beheading of journalist James Foley.
With sectarian tensions raging, reports say at least 70 people have been killed in a suicide bombing and shooting at a Sunni mosque near Baquba.
That is set to complicate Baghdad’s bid to build a cross-community government to fight the Islamic State insurgency.
In the Kurdish capital Irbil, weapons are selling well with locals fearing the arrival of an extremist movement branded by the US as ‘beyond just a terrorist group’.