Shiite cleric urges Iraqis to defend country

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Associated Press

Posted on June 13, 2014 at 9:08 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 13 at 11:34 PM

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's Shiite clerical leadership is calling on all Iraqis to defend their country from Sunni militants who have seized large swaths of territory. A U.N. official is expressing "extreme alarm" at reprisal killings in the offensive, citing reports of hundreds of dead and wounded.

President Barack Obama says he's weighing options for countering the insurgency. But he warned Iraqi leaders that he would not take military action unless they moved to address the country's political divisions.

Obama did not specify what options he is considering, but he ruled out sending American troops back into combat in Iraq.

The fast-moving rebellion has emerged as the biggest threat to Iraq's stability since the U.S. withdrawal in 2011. It has pushed the nation closer to a precipice that could partition it into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish zones.

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