The Iraq conflict is turning increasingly sectarian. The Sunni extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continues to tighten its grip on cities north of Baghdad.
Mainly Shi-ite residents in the capital have responded to a call for volunteers by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, an influential Shi’ite leader. They are ready to defend their cities if ISIL’s offensive heads south.
Ali Zamil, a Baghdad resident from Sadr city, explained: “We are ready to go and fight in Mosul, Ramadi, Tikrit, Diyali and Samarrul – in any province the Sayyid orders, even in Baghdad. People are ready, including Sunnis, Shi-ites, Kurds and Christians. All are ready to obey the orders of (Shi’ite leader) Sayyid Moqtada al-Sadr.