As it happened: Iraq conflict

Key points

  • Iraq's most senior Shia Muslim cleric issues call to arms against Sunni insurgents
  • Militants move closer to Baghdad, capturing two towns in Diyala province
  • Hundreds have been killed, and summary executions took place in Mosul, the UN says
  • The US is looking at "all options", including military action, to help Iraq fight the rebels
  • Iran has offered support against "terrorism" amid a report it sent some elite soldiers into Iraq
  • All times GMT

Live text


  • Jasmine Coleman 
  • Sitala Peek 
  • Alastair Lawson 
  • Yaroslav Lukov 
  • Alexis Akwagyiram 

Last updated 13 June 2014


Hello and welcome to the BBC's live coverage of the continuing Islamist insurgency in Iraq. Sunni militants - led by al-Qaeda offshoot the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) - are moving towards the capital, Baghdad, after capturing two major cities.


Meanwhile, Iraq's most senior Shia cleric - Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani - issued a call to arms to fight the militants.


The UN says hundreds have been killed in recent days - with militants carrying out summary executions of civilians in the city of Mosul, which was seized earlier this week along with Tikrit.


Overnight, the ISIS jihadists captured two towns in the Diyala province. That move opened up a new front in their advance.


The advance by the militants has prompted concern within the international community. The US and Iran have promised to help the fight against the insurgency.


Jeremy Bowen, BBC Middle East editor

says: "If ISIS can hold Mosul and consolidate its presence there, it will have taken a giant step towards its goal of creating an Islamist emirate that straddles Iraq and Syria."


The militants have threatened to continue their advance on regions further south dominated by Iraq's Shia Muslim majority, who they regard as "infidels".


On Thursday, with the militants closing in on the capital, forces from Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region took control of Kirkuk - a contested oil-rich city in the north.

Kurdish security forces patrol Kirkuk. Photo: 13 June 2014 Kurdish security forces patrol Kirkuk


ISIS reportedly has 3,000 to 5,000 fighters, and grew out of an al-Qaeda-linked group in Iraq. It was formed in April last year, and has since been disavowed by al-Qaeda. Correspondents say it appears to be surpassing al-Qaeda as the world's most dangerous jihadist group.