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Thousands Of Iraqi Shiites Answer Cleric's Call To Arms

Updated: Saturday, June 14 2014, 07:50 PM CDT

Thousands of Shiite men from Baghdad and across southern Iraq are answering an urgent call to arms.

They're joining security forces to fight Sunni militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, who have captured large areas of territory north of the capital and now threaten Samarra and other cities with revered religious shrines.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is calling for the unity of all Iraqis and is denying that the call to arms is directed against Sunnis. He says it's meant to protect the country and its holy shrines.

Iraqi army troops are going house-to-house in Baghdad. They're searching for militants and weapons in neighborhoods close to government installations.

Meanwhile, the militants gained more territory on Saturday. A local official in Diyala province says they have seized a small town about 60 miles north of Baghdad after Iraqi security forces pulled out.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Thousands Of Iraqi Shiites Answer Cleric's Call To Arms

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