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What you need to know about Iraq's militant incursions

Published on Jun 12, 2014 5:13 PM
Kurdish Iraqi Peshmerga forces deploy their troops and armoured vehicles on the outskirts of the multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk, only 1 kilometre away from areas controlled by Sunni Muslim Jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on the main road between Kirkuk, Mosul and Baiji in northern Iraq on June 12, 2014. More Iraqi cities are in peril as militants vow to press on with their lightning offensive that has alarmed the international community. -- PHOTO: AFP 

Militants in Iraq have seized a broad swathe of territory in the northern and western regions of the country in recent weeks in their quest to topple the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and to set up an Islamic caliphate. 

Here's what you should know about the situation in Iraq:

Who are the militants?

The militants are from the Sunni Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The group grew out of an Al-Qaeda-linked organisation in Iraq and is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, an obscure figure regarded as a battlefield commander and tactician.

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