4th Iraqi Town Falls to Militants

Iraqi Turkmen forces patrol a checkpoint in the northern city of Tuz Khurmatu close to locations of jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters. (Photo: Karim Sahib, AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi Turkmen forces patrol a checkpoint in the northern city of Tuz Khurmatu close to locations of jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters. (Photo: Karim Sahib, AFP/Getty Images)

The Sunni push that has brought havoc to western Iraq continued virtually unabated Sunday as militants secured the town of Rutba, the fourth to fall in two days in embattled Anbar Province.

News outlets including The Wall Street Journal reported the fighting Sunday morning came a day after militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant overran a crucial border post with Syria near the town of al Qaim and seized the cities of Rawa and Ana in western Anbar.

The Associated Press reported that residents were negotiating Sunday with the ISIL militants to leave after an army unit on the town’s outskirts threatened to start shelling.

As the battles intensify, Iran’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei came out against U.S. intervention, telling the Iran state news agency IRNA that “Iran believes that people and government as well as religious leaders of Iraq can end the adventurism.”

“The U.S. is not pleased with the current situation in Iraq, letˈs say holding elections with good participation of the public and deciding the public choices because the U.S. wants to dominate Iraq and have its agents rule over the country.”

Khamenei said the struggle was not a war between Sunnis and Shiites, but a battle led by loyalists of the deposed Saddam regime to break up the country. He chastised the United States for trying to dictate policy with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite in Shiite-majority Iraq.

“The main dispute in Iraq is between those who want Iraq to join the U.S. camp and those who seek an independent Iraq,” said Khamenei, who has the final say over government policies. “The U.S. aims to bring its own blind followers to power.”

Shiite Iran supports the government in Baghdad, and has said it would consider any request for military aid.

President Obama weighed in Sunday, telling CBS’ Face The Nation that “right now the problem with (ISIL) is the fact that they’re destabilizing the country” and could turn it into a staging area for global terrorism.

“That could spill over into some of our, you know, allies like Jordan and that they are engaged in wars in Syria where — in that vacuum that’s been created — they could amass more arms, more resources,” Obama said.

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Source: USA Today | John Bacon