Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015

UN warns that Iraq crisis is 'life-threatening' as fighting nears Baghdad

Published on Jun 17, 2014 8:43 PM
Newly-recruited Iraqi volunteers, wearing police force uniforms, take part in a training session on June 17, 2014, in the central Shi'ite Muslim city of Karbala. -- PHOTO: AFP

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Militants pushed a week-long offensive that has overrun swathes of Iraq to within 60km of Baghdad on Tuesday, as the United Nations warned the country's very existence was under threat and the Iraqi government blamed Saudi Arabia for its troubles.

The swift advance of the militants has sparked international alarm, with UN envoy to Baghdad Nickolay Mladenov warning that Iraq's sovereignty was at stake.

"Right now, it's life-threatening for Iraq but it poses a serious danger to the region," Mr Mladenov told AFP. "Iraq faces the biggest threat to its sovereignty and territorial integrity" in years, he added.

Washington meanwhile deployed some 275 military personnel to protect its embassy in Baghdad, the first time it has sent troops to Iraq since it withdrew its forces at the end of 2011 after a bloody and costly intervention launched in 2003.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!