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Iraq lawmakers convene to form new government in battle with "caliphate"

Published on Jul 1, 2014 10:36 AM
 

BAGHDAD (REUTERS) - Newly elected Iraqi lawmakers convene on Tuesday, under pressure to name a unity government to keep the country from splitting apart after an onslaught by Sunni Islamists who have declared a "caliphate" to rule over all the world's Muslims.

The meeting of the new legislature in Baghdad's fortified "green zone" could spell the end of the eight-year rule of Shiite Islamist Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, with foes determined to unseat him and even some allies saying he may need to be replaced by a less polarising figure.

Iraqi troops have been battling for three weeks against fighters led by the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Fighting has raged in recent days in former dictator Saddam Hussein's home city, Tikrit.

ISIS, which rules swathes of territory in an arc from Aleppo in Syria to near the western edge of Baghdad in Iraq, has renamed itself simply the Islamic State (IS).

Militant Islamist fighters hold a parade in Syria's northern Raqqa province to celebrate their declaration of an Islamic "caliphate" after the group captured territory in neighbouring Iraq. Newly elected Iraqi lawmakers convene on Tuesday, under pressure to name a unity government. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
 
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