BAGHDAD — Iraq edged closer to the prospect of full-blown civil war Saturday, with Iraqis lining up to join the fight after a top Shiite Muslim cleric issued a call to arms against Muslim extremists who are continuing their military campaign to supplant the government.
In his sermon in Karbala Friday, Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai urged citizens to resist the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an al-Qaeda splinter group that overran Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, as well as other towns in the past week after encountering little resistance from Iraqi troops.
“Citizens who are able to bear arms and fight terrorists, defend their country and their people and their holy places, should volunteer and join the security forces to achieve this holy purpose,” al-Karbalai said. “He who sacrifices for the cause of defending his country and his family and his honor will be a martyr.”
In Baghdad, Iraqis were heeding the cleric’s call. Former army officer Mohammed Saled, 45, was waiting to enter a military recruitment center that has been swamped for the past two days with men eager to defend the capital from ISIL militants, who have vowed to take the city.
“All Iraqis must get ready to fight those criminals who have no agenda except killing the innocent,” Saled said…. see more