Iraq’s Prime Minister has said that his forces have started to clear cities of “terrorists”, as President Barack Obama said he will not be sending troops back to the country to quell an insurgency by Islamists.

It comes after a representative of the country’s most senior Shi’ite cleric urged people to take up arms and defend the nation from militants.

Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have been storming across the northern part of the Iraq, forcing the country’s US-trained security services to scatter and flee.

They are now thought to be less than 50 miles (80km) from the gates of the capital Baghdad.

Sheikh Abdulmehdi al Karbalai, a representative for Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani, said: “People who are capable of carrying arms and fighting the terrorists in defence of their country … should volunteer to join the security forces to achieve this sacred goal.”

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki travelled to the embattled city of Samarra on Friday for a security meeting. The city was attacked by militants from ISIS earlier in the week.

US President Barack Obama made a statement on Friday, saying he would not be sending troops back into Iraq, but had asked advisers to draw up a number of options.

He acknowledged that the Iraqi troops that had been trained by US forces had not coped when pressed, saying it appeared that there is a “problem”… see more

source: skynews