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US warns of air strikes as invading Al Qaeda militants leave Iraq in limbo

13 June 2014

The United States has warned invading Al Qaeda-inspired militants of a possible military response as they pushed deeper into a province northeast of Baghdad today, capturing two towns there after taking hold of cities in the country's north.

alarabiyaReports said the Obama administration is considering possible air strikes to deter the invading militants who have neared the Iraq's capital Baghdad.

Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq along with dissident Sunni groups of the Saddam Hussein era yesterday vowed to march on to Baghdad.

Militants driving in machinegun-mounted pick-ups entered two towns in Diyala province late on Thursday, police officials said.

Iraq's Shiite government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki failed to effectively respond to the Al-Qaeda militants who captured entire chunks of the nation's Sunni heartland this week, including major cities.

The militant attack, the biggest threat to Iraq's stability since the US withdrawal at the end of 2011, could trigger a partition of the nation into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish zones.

In northern Iraq, Kurdish security forces, meanwhile, took over control of an air base and other posts abandoned by the army in the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk.

US and Germany started evacuating their citizens from a major Iraqi air base in Sunni territory north of Baghdad even as President Barack Obama said Iraq will need more help from the US.

Obama did not specify what it would be willing to provide. Unnamed senior US officials said Washington is considering whether to conduct drone missions in Iraq.

The UN Security Council met to discuss the crisis, underscoring the growing international alarm over the stunning advances by the Islamic State.

Several thousand Americans remain in Iraq, mostly contractors who work at the US Embassy in Baghdad on programmes to train Iraqi forces on American military equipment like fighter jets and tanks.

Other US contractors are at a tank training ground in the city of Taji, just north of the capital that is still in operation for now.

In addition to the possible military assistance, State Department spokeswoman Psaki said the US is sending about $12 million in humanitarian aid to help nearly a million Iraqis who have been forced from their homes by recent fighting in the nation's north and west, according to Fox News.

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