World Bulletin/News Desk
Iraq's top cleric called again on compatriots on Friday to unite against the "big danger" posed by ISIL militants, whose advances prompted U.S. President Barack Obama to authorise limited bombing.
In a weekly Friday sermon delivered through a spokesman in the sacred Shi'ite city of Kerbala, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani blamed Iraqi politicians for Iraq's biggest crisis since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, saying they are motivated by self-interest.
"All Iraqis should unify ranks and intensify efforts in the face of this big danger that threatens their present and future," said Sistani.
The ISIL swept through northern Iraq in June, almost unopposed by Iraq's U.S.-funded and trained army, and has made gains since then.
Friday's sermon marks the second time that Sistani has called on Iraqis to stand up to the ISIL, which has threatened to march on Baghdad and wants to reshape the map of the Middle East.
Sistani said that politicians who cling to their posts are making a "grave mistake", piling pressure on Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to drop his bid for a third term.
Sistani urged politicians to stop bickering and choose a prime minister who can unite Iraqis and end the crisis posed by Sunni insurgents.
"All political parties should know that conflicts and differences among each other - which in many times have no justification but self interest or sectarian or national interests - have caused the weakening of everybody and opened the door for the terrorists," he said.
Over the past week, the Sunni militants have made another dramatic push through the north, seizing a fifth oilfield and several more towns and reaching Iraq's biggest dam after routing Kurdish forces.
Reuters photographs published on Thursday showed what appeared to be ISIL fighters controlling a checkpoint near the border with the Kurdish semi-autonomous region.
Some interesting facts about Muslim nations and the players in this year’s competition.
Global tide of forcibly displaced people rose 2.9M last year; Turkey hosts largest refugee population, most Syrians
Republican-controlled Senate votes 85-10 for fiscal year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said earlier that nearly 40 foreign fighters allied to Syria's regime were killed in the raid in eastern Syria.
Osman Askin Bak says Turkey prepared to host 2024 UEFA European Football Championship
12,845 registered Turkish voters cast ballots for Turkey's presidential, general elections in New York
Settlers clash with Israeli police over illegal settlement outpost built on Palestinian land
Israeli army strikes at al-Bureij refugee camp in Gaza Strip
US will implement 25 percent tariff on Chinese goods that 'contain industrially significant technologies,' White House says
Airstrikes target PKK terror group in mountainous Qandil region
Colombians go to the polls in the second round of presidential elections
Restaurant chain to ditch plastic drinking straws in UK by 2019 and begin testing alternatives elsewhere
Nearly $200M still frozen after Trump authorizes administration to use funds to bolster White Helmets, UN
Gaza's Palestinians celebrate end-of-Ramadan holiday amid steadily worsening economic conditions