Iraqi forces have killed 279 militants
in 24 hours, as they push back against a major militant offensive, a security spokesman has said.
The defensive against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) comes after US secretary of state John Kerry said US assistance to repel the militant advance, would only work if Iraqi leaders overcame deep divisions.
Mr Kerry met with Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari about providing help in fighting the ISIS jihadists, who have took control of several cities in the past week, the state department said in a statement.
“He expressed to the foreign minister that help from the United States would only be successful if Iraqi leaders were willing to put aside differences and implement a coordinated and effective approach to forge the national unity necessary to move the country forward and face the threat of [ISIS],” the statement said.
Mr Kerry also suggested Iraq to rapidly ratify the results of recent elections and to form a new government.In the crucial belt of territory north and north-east of Baghdad where the predominantly Sunni militants have penetrated within striking distance of the capital, government forces are pushing back.
With Shiite militias fighting by the side of security forces against the militants, the struggle has taken on a strong sectarian dimension.
Last week, the Iraqi parliament failed to convene for a vote on declaring a state of emergency due to a boycott by most Sunni and Kurdish politicians.
The Iraqi foreign ministry said in a statement that Mr Kerry pledged $12 million in support and stressed that Baghdad should assure its neighbours the war is not sectarian, but against the insurgents.
US president Barack Obama said on Friday he was reviewing military options, short of sending troops, to combat the insurgency.The US sent an aircraft carrier into the Gulf on Saturday, readying it in case Washington decides to pursue a military option after insurgents overran areas in the north and advanced on Baghdad. Two seventy nine Dead.