World Bulletin/News Desk
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told army officers in the city of Samarra that volunteers were arriving to help defeat militants who have swept through Sunni Muslim territory towards Baghdad.
"Samarra will not be the last line of defence, but a gathering point and launchpad," Maliki said, addressing miliary officers in the city around 100 km (60 miles) north of the capital on the road to insurgent-controlled Mosul.
"Within the coming hours, all the volunteers will arrive to support the security forces in their war against the gangs of ISIL. This is the beginning of the end of them," Maliki, a Shi'ite Muslim, said in comments broadcast on Iraqi television on Saturday after he travelled to Samarra on Friday.
Iraq's most influential Shi'ite cleric urged people on Friday to take up arms and defend the country against the militants, who overran the city of Mosul earlier this week and have since advanced southwards.
Maliki said the cabinet had granted him unlimited powers to confront the fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and an army spokesman said security forces had "regained the initiative" on various fronts.
During his trip to Samarra Maliki visited a revered Shi'ite shrine that was bombed by Sunni militants in 2006, an attack which touched off sectarian bloodletting that killed tens of thousands of people.
Threatens to ban Al Arabiya News in Iraq
The Iraqi government threatened on Saturday to close the Baghdad office of Al Arabiya News Channel and ban correspondents of both Al Arabiya and sister news channel, Al Hadath, from reporting in the country.
According to the Al Arabiya, the warning from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki comes as a growing number of political figures in the country have been urging the Iraqi leader to resign and form a transitional government.
Sheikh Ali Hatem, the leader of the Al-Dalim tribe, urged political blocs in the parliament to sack Maliki and ensure the formation of a transitional government to “save what is left of Iraq.”
Iraqi political analyst Ahmad al-Abyad, spokesman of the National Iraqi Alliance, said the United States and Maliki’s government are responsible for the recent chaos in Iraq.
Tareq al-Hashimi, the country’s former vice president, also demanded Maliki step down and start immediately with the formation of a new government.
The United States has said that it would help the Baghdad government.
On Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama said that he was looking at “all options” to help the Iraqi prime minister thwart the insurgency.
Obama left himself a clear off-ramp by making military action in Iraq contingent on a "serious and sincere effort by Iraq's leaders to set aside sectarian differences" between the nation's Sunnis and Shiites.
"We can't do it for them," Obama said.
"And in the absence of this type of political effort, short-term military action, including any assistance we might provide, won't succeed."
The threat to close the news outlets Saturday comes a day after the government moved to block access to a variety of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.Last Mod: 14 Haziran 2014, 16:14