The situation on the ground in Iraq appears to be deteriorating by the hour as reports come in that Islamic State of Iraq and Syria forces have taken up positions 90 kilometres from Baghdad.
The Sunni militants have overrun Tikrit, and are close to Iraq’s biggest oil refinery at Baiji.
The group’s overall agenda is to carve out a new Islamic state traversing the Iraqi-Syrian border. The fall of Dhuluiya opens the road to the capital.
With cities and regions falling like dominoes the United States has promised full support but has also urged Baghdad to go on the offensive. Prime Minister Maliki has been occupied with forming a new post-election government, and this crisis appears to have blindsided him.
Area controlled by militants and current fighting
Main iraqi oil fields
Area controlled by militants in Syria and Iraq