BAGHDAD, June 30 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces on Monday continued their battles against Sunni militant groups in Salahudin province, as an al-Qaida offshoot group declared the establishment of an Islamic state in Iraq and Syria.
Earlier in the day, helicopter gunships pounded a neighborhood in the center of the city of Baiji, some 200 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, leaving six people dead and up to 13 wounded along with damaging five houses and two shops, a Salahudin provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Earlier insurgent groups overran the oil refinery city of Baiji as well as large parts of the predominantly Sunni province of Salahudin, but security forces managed to keep control over the refinery just outside the city despite repeated attacks by the militants to seize it.
Separately, fierce battles erupted during the day between security forces and Sunni militants, including those who are belonged to the Islamic State, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an al-Qaida breakaway group, in al-Deum area, just north of Salahudin's provincial capital city of Tikrit, about 170 km north of Baghdad, the source said.
Late on Sunday, the ISIL which seized large areas in Syria and in Iraq has formally declared the establishment of the caliphate Islamic rule in both countries and demanded allegiance from all Muslims.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, was declared the caliph or religious ruler of the new rule system of caliphate, according to an online audio recording.
The new caliphate is an attempt to revive the system of Islamic religious ruling which ended about 100 years ago with the fall of the Ottoman Empire during the World War I.
The troops moved from their military base in north of Tikrit, which previously was used by the U.S. forces, known as Camp Speicher, toward northern part of Tikrit in an attempt to link with the previously seized foothold in the compound of Tikrit University, but their attempt was foiled by the tough resistance of the militants, the source said.
The militant-seized city of Tikrit was the target of a major offensive on Saturday by the Iraqi security forces which advanced to the city from four routes, but apparently were repelled by the Sunni militants who stopped the troops near the town of Dijla.
On June 11, Sunni militants including those who are linked to the ISIL took control of the city of Tikrit after security forces fled the scene.
"The Islamic State decided to establish an Islamic caliphate and to designate a caliph for the state of the Muslims," spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani said in the recording.
Al-Adnani called on Muslims everywhere, not just those in areas under the group's control, to swear loyalty to al-Baghdadi and support him.
"The Jihadist cleric al-Baghdadi is the caliph of Muslims everywhere," al-Adnani said, adding "listen to your caliph and obey him. Support your state, which grows every day."
The declaration was made on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and is expected to trigger a wave of infighting among the Sunni militant groups which formed a sort of a loose alliance in the blitzkrieg in the Sunni dominated provinces in Iraq.
BAGHDAD, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Iraq has received the first batch of 5 Russian Sukhoi-25 warplanes to support the Iraqi security forces in fighting against Sunni militants who took control of large swathes of territories in several Sunni provinces in the country, Defense Ministry said on Sunday.
"The first batch of five Russian jet fighters, Sukhoi 25 arrived in Iraq, in accordance with a contract between Russia and the Ministry of Defense," the ministry said in a statement emailed to Xinhua. Full story
UNITED NATIONS, June 29 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Sunday voiced his deep concern at "the deepening crisis in Iraq and the rising number of civilian deaths and injuries," calling for an immediate end to the "persecution of civilians based on their religion or ethnic background."
"The secretary-general expresses his grave concern at the deepening crisis in Iraq and the rising number of civilian deaths and injuries, with over one million Iraqis having fled their homes due to the fighting," said a statement issued here by Ban's spokesman. "The secretary-general calls on all parties to the conflict ensure that persecution of civilians based on their religion or ethnic background cease immediately." Full story