Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government has formally asked the United States to launch airstrikes against Sunni Muslim insurgents who have engulfed the country in fighting and battled their way into Iraq’s biggest oil refinery in Baiji.
In a televised address, Iraq’s prime minister called for his country’s tribes to fight back against the Sunni militants.
Kurdish “peshmerga“ troops have joined the effort to defeat the advance although they are focused on securing the Kurdish region to the north.
The insurgents have set their sights on Baghdad to the south.
Militant fighters, led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), aim to build an independent Sunni Muslim emirate in the region.
ISIL’s surge may pose the biggest security threat to Iraq since the sectarian bloodshed that followed the US-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein in 2003.