WASHINGTON, June 30 (Xinhua) -- The White House said on Monday that the Islamic group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is fighting to "destroy Iraq," promising continuing delivery of weaponry including F-16 fighters to the embattled Arab country.
Spokesman Josh Earnest, in response to ISIL's declared establishment on Sunday of a caliphate in areas under its control in both Syria and Iraq, described it as "a campaign of terror or of gross acts of violence and repressive ideology that pose a grave threat to Iraq's future."
"ISIL is not, as it claims, fighting on behalf of Sunnis," he told reporters at a daily news briefing. "ISIL is not fighting for a stronger Iraq. ISIL is fighting to destroy Iraq."
He voiced "disappointment" over Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki' failure over the years to pursue an "inclusive governing agenda" needed to ensure what he called "the long-term success" of Iraq.
He said Washington was working with Maliki's government and all the political leaders in Iraq toward the establishment of an inclusive government to confront "this existential threat" posed by ISIL.
He explained that the United States was urging Iraq's leaders to reach an agreement on the three critical posts key to forming the next government -- the parliamentary speaker, the president and the prime minister.
"We're hoping that they'll act quickly so government formation can move forward after the first session of the new parliament is convened on July 1," Earnest added.
Washington is sending as many as 300 military advisors to Iraq in addition to stepped-up surveillance and intelligence gathering in the Arab country, as part of its efforts to counter the ISIL's lightening offensive in northern and western Iraq.
The Obama administration asked Congress for approving a financing of 500 million dollars to train and equip vetted members of Syria's opposition Thursday, as ISIL fighters are fighting inside both Iraq and Syria.
"I can tell you that the United States remains committed to delivering the F-16s to Iraq as quickly as possible," he said, adding the delivery of the first two have been scheduled for this fall.
Iraq army in tug-of-war fights with Sunni militants
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. Full story
First batch of 5 Russian jet fighters arrive 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
UN chief voices deep concern at "deepening crisis" in Iraq
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