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Iraqi troops dig in, bolstering Baghdad's defences

Published on Jun 14, 2014 10:26 PM
 
Iraqi tribes men carry their weapons as they gather, volunteering to fight along side the Iraqi security forces against militants who have taken over northern Iraqi cities, on June 14, 2014, in the capital Baghdad. Soldiers armed with shovels are digging in just 25km north of Baghdad as others man new checkpoints, bolstering the Iraqi capital's defences against a militant assault. -- PHOTO: AFP 

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Soldiers armed with shovels are digging in just 25km north of Baghdad as others man new checkpoints, bolstering the Iraqi capital's defences against a militant assault.

A major militant offensive launched on Monday, spearheaded by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group but also involving supporters of executed dictator Saddam Hussein, has overrun a large chunk of northern and north-central Iraq.

The advance swept to within less than 100km of the capital, raising fears among residents that the city itself would be next, though militants have since been pushed back by security forces in areas farther north, making an assault on Baghdad appear less likely.

ISIL spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani has vowed its fighters would press on to Baghdad and Karbala, a city south-west of the capital that is considered one of the holiest sites in Shiite Islam.

 
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