Baghdad: US secretary of state John Kerry on Monday pledged “intense” support for Iraq against the “existential threat” of a major militant offensive pushing toward Baghdad from the north and west.
Mr Kerry met with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other Iraqi leaders to urge a speeding up of the government formation process in order to face down the insurgents even as Baghdad’s forces abandoned the border with Jordan, leaving the entire Western frontier outside government control.
Sunni tribes took the Turaibil border crossing, the only legal crossing point between Iraq and Jordan, after Iraqi security forces fled, Iraqi and Jordanian security sources said. The tribes were negotiating to hand the post over to insurgents from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant who took control of two main crossings with Syria over the weekend.
Kurdish forces control a third border post with Syria in the north, leaving central government troops with no presence along the entire Western frontier. Mr Maliki’s security spokesman said Monday “hundreds” of soldiers had been killed since the insurgents, led by the powerful jihadis Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), launched their offensive on June 9.
The announcement on television by Lieutenant General Qassem Atta is the most specific information provided so far by the government on losses sustained by the security forces.