BAGHDAD, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces fought back insurgents' attempts to advance towards the country's eastern province of Diyala on Thursday, while Sunni militant groups continued their march towards the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
In Diyala, Iraqi security forces and the militants engaged in fierce clashes in a rural area near the villages of Tabaj, north of the provincial capital Baquba, killing two soldiers and three militants, a security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Sadeq al-Husseini, head of security committee in Diyala provincial council, said the Iraqi forces are preparing for counter attacks on insurgent positions in a militant-seized town of Sulaiman Beg in neighboring Salahudin province.
"The troops will storm the town from three directions after reinforcement troops joined the forces in Diyala and are now closing to Sulaiman Beg," Husseini said.
Meanwhile, an Iraqi army source rejected the reports that the security forces withdrew from their positions on the Iraqi- Syrian border in the volatile Sunni province of Anbar, saying that only one brigade left their positions near the city of Qaim, while the rest remained in the desert alongside the border with Syria.
Earlier, an Anbar provincial police source said the Iraqi army, police and border guards withdrew late Wednesday from their positions on the border with Syria near the city of Qaim, some 330 km northwest of Baghdad.
Immediately after the withdrawal, Sunni tribal leaders of the city announced the takeover of the border area and the city, the source said.
Also in the province, Sunni militants swept a major military base of the al-Mazraa, just west of the militant-controlled city of Fallujah, and seized large amounts of vehicles, weapons and ammunition after the army soldiers' sudden retreat, the source said.
The militants also seized the battlefield-town of Saqlawiyah after an overnight fighting with the government troops, and headed towards Baghdad, the source said.
In Salahudin province, Iraqi security forces in the city of Samarra were still fighting with militant groups, including the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, an al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq, local police source said.
In Iraq's northern city of Kirkuk, a Kurdish security source said the Kurdish forces took full control of Kirkuk, some 250 km north of Baghdad, after the Iraqi army withdrew from its military base in the area.
The Kurdish security forces' takeover of the city raises concerns that the central government's forces are losing their battle against militants in the region.
On Wednesday, Iraqi soldiers left their major military base, just 10 km northwest of Kirkuk, the source said, adding that after the soldiers abandoned their posts, dozens of civilians plundered the site and seized their weapons.
The ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk is among the disputed areas claimed by three of Iraq's diverse ethnic groups, the Kurds, the Arabs and the Turkomans. The Kurds want to incorporate the areas bordering the Kurdistan region, but their claim is fiercely opposed by the government in Baghdad.
The state-run Iraqiya television aired a footage showing the Iraqi air force bombing insurgent positions in and around the city of Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, including an attack on the military base of al-Ghizlani, which located in south of Mosul and was seized by the Sunni militants.
The channel said the air force carried out airstrikes on militants in north of Tikrit, north of Baghdad.
Also in the day, the Iraqi parliament failed to call for an emergency session to discuss whether to impose the state of emergency for some political blocs did not show up, said the Iraqiya official channel, adding that the decision requires the approval of two-thirds of the legislature's 325 members.
On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki declared a highest alert in the country, and urged the parliament to declare a state of emergency in the face of the worsening security situation.
However, observers believe that Maliki's political opponents would boycott the session for they worry the state of emergency would give Maliki more powers that could enable him to hit his political rivals.
The security deterioration in Iraq started last week when bloody clashes broke out between the Iraqi security forces and hundreds of gunmen who took control of several neighborhoods in western part of Mosul, and expanded later to other areas after the Iraqi security forces withdrew from the city.
UNITED NATIONS, June 12 (Xinhua) -- The top UN envoy to Iraq on Thursday told members of the Security Council there is no immediate danger of the violence spreading to Baghdad, the Iraqi national capital.
The prediction was retold by Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, this month's council president, at the UN Headquarters in New York after members of the council were briefed by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General to Iraq, Nickolay Mlodenov, via a teleconference, with Mlodenov speaking from Baghdad, following insurgents taking over a wide swath of northern Iraq, including the nation's second largest city, Mosul. Full story
WASHINGTON, June 12 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday voiced "deep concern" about the worsening situation in Iraq, saying President Barack Obama will make "key decisions in short order."
"We are deeply concerned about what is happening in Iraq, and we are not concerned and waiting," the top American envoy told reporters before meeting with visiting Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the State Department. Full story