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
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.
Hashim in Baghdad
emails: This is a conspiracy to divide Iraq and put sections of it under the influence of neighbouring countries. The players in this are Iran, Saudi, Turkey and the Kurds. The Iranians would get the south and Baghdad, and in return they give up their nuclear project... Nouri Maliki deepened division in Iraq with his unwillingness to give up power. He is no different to Saddam.