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Iraq sacks top officers as UN warns of break-up

Published on Jun 18, 2014 10:20 AM
 
Iraqi Shiite tribesmen brandish their weapons and a poster of Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani as they gather to show their willingness to join Iraqi security forces in the fight against Jihadist militants who have taken over several northern Iraqi cities, on June 17 2014, in the southern Shiite Muslim shrine city of Najaf. Iraq's premier fired several top security commanders in a major shake-up as fighting approached Baghdad in a militant onslaught that the United Nations warned could break up the country. -- PHOTO: AFP

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraq's premier fired several top security commanders in a major shake-up as fighting approached Baghdad in a militant onslaught that the United Nations warned could break up the country.

Washington deployed some 275 military personnel to protect its embassy in Baghdad, the first time it has publicly bolstered the mission's security. And it was also mulling air strikes against the militants, who are led by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) but include loyalists of now-executed Sunni Arab dictator Saddam Hussein.

A relative calm in Baghdad was shattered by a string of bombings that left 17 people dead, while the bodies of 18 soldiers and police were found near the city of Samarra, shot in the head and chest.

More than a week after insurgents launched their lightning assault, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki dismissed several senior officers, including the commander for the northern province of Nineveh, the first to fall. He also ordered that one of them face court-martial for desertion.

 
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