Iraqi forces prepare for ISIL counterattack
Iraqi forces prepare to carry out a counter-offensive against the terrorist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in north of the capital, Baghdad.
Military officials say reinforcements from the army and police have arrived for a drive against areas in north of Samarra, which were seized by militants a few days ago.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited Samarra on Saturday.
"Samarra will not be the last line of defense, but a gathering point and launch pad," al-Maliki said during an address to army officers in the city that was broadcast by Iraqi TV, adding, "Within the coming hours, all the volunteers will arrive to support the security forces.... This is the beginning of the end for them.”
Earlier, al-Maliki said the cabinet had granted him unlimited powers to fight the ISIL militants, noting that authorities will arm citizens in Nineveh and Salahuddin provinces to fight the militants.
Over the past days, Iraqi armed forces have been engaged in fierce clashes with the terrorists, who have threatened to take their acts of violence to other Iraqi cities, including the capital, Baghdad.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Iraqi volunteers are now flocking to regions in Baghdad to join the battle against the militants.
According to Iraqi media reports, a district in Salahuddin Province has been completely cleared from terrorists. They say dozens of militants were gunned down in an army attack in southern Mosul.
Prime Minister al-Maliki has blamed Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the security crisis and growing terrorism in his country, denouncing Riyadh as a major supporter of global terrorism.