UK & World News

  • 26 June 2014, 9:53

Cleric To 'Shake The Ground' Fighting Militants

A Shia cleric has warned his supporters will "shake the ground" fighting Sunni militants in Iraq.

In a televised address, Moqtada al Sadr also expressed opposition to US military advisors meeting Iraqi commanders to provide tactical advice over repelling a Sunni insurgency that has overrun swathes of the country and killed more than 1,000 people.

Iraq's beleaguered military were initially overcome by the ferocity of the insurgency that captured several strategic cities in the country, including Qaim, Rawa, Haditha and Ramadi.

Government forces have since recovered ground and repelled further assaults on other critical towns and infrastructure, although there are reports the offensive has since been bolstered by Islamist rebels from Syria joining forces with the Iraqi insurgency.

US officials have also revealed Syria launched airstrikes into western Iraq on Tuesday in an attempt to disrupt the insurgency fighting both the Syrian and Iraqi governments.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad's government has been locked in a bloody civil war with opposition groups since 2011.

Al Sadr also called for "new faces" in a national unity government after elections in April saw Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki win with the most seats, although he failed to secure a majority.

But al Maliki warned he would not be sidelined by rivals seeking to use the insurgency and fragile state of the country to try to oust him.

Such a move was "an attempt by those who are against the constitution to eliminate the young democratic process and steal the votes of the voters," he said.

The US has made concerted efforts to unite Iraq's fractious political leaders in the face of the offensive led by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) jihadist group, although they have shown little sign of coming together.