Kerry: U.S. is committed to defeating ISIL

Published June 15th, 2014 - 12:48 GMT

US Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States is committed to helping Iraq beat back al-Qaeda-linked militants who have vowed to march toward the capital, Baghdad.

In a telephone call on Saturday, Kerry told his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari that Washington was ready to provide assistance against the terrorists, but it would only work if Iraqi leaders resolve their differences, the State Department said in a statement.

"He emphasized to the Foreign Minister that assistance from the United States would only be successful if Iraqi leaders were willing to put aside differences and implement a coordinated and effective approach to forge the national unity necessary to move the country forward and confront the threat of ISIL," the statement said, referring to the militants of the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) who have taken over some Iraqi cities.

The top US diplomat also advised the Iraqi government to endorse the results of April 30 parliamentary elections and to form a new government.

On June 10, the ISIL militants took control of Nineveh province, including its provincial capital Mosul, in a lightning advance, which was followed by the fall of Tikrit, located 140 kilometers (87 miles) northwest of Baghdad.

Since then, they have been racing toward Baghdad, but their advance appeared to be slowing on Saturday with Iraqi forces intensifying their counterattack, recapturing a number of towns in Salah al-Din and Diyala provinces.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said that the country’s security forces would confront the terrorists, calling Mosul seizure a “conspiracy."

He 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.

On Friday, US President Barack Obama said he was reviewing military options to help the Iraqi government fight the militants. Next day, the Pentagon ordered three warships to move into the Persian Gulf to provide Obama with options should he decide to launch airstrikes against the militants.

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