London: Iraqi government forces fought off rebel forces north of Baghdad yesterday amid signs from the US that the Obama administration is hesitating before being drawn into a new war.
Heavy clashes were reported from Baquba after it was taken over by fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis), and in Baghdad eight people were killed by a suicide bomber. Iranian-backed militiamen were out in force in Shia areas of the capital in an attempt to assure residents that they have a highly volatile situation under control.
As the fighting continued, there was no sign of imminent military moves by the US, with the White House warning of several days of further consultation before any intervention. Senior Democrats have expressed growing caution about the risks of being sucked back in to any conflict.
In London, Prime Minister David Cameron warned that Isis militants in Iraq and Syria were the “biggest threat to national security that exists today”.
Cameron’s warning came amid reports of the clashes in Baquba, less than 40 miles north of Baghdad, and the closest the fighting has come to the Iraqi capital since Isis took over most of the northern part of the country last week. Insurgents had taken control of parts of Baquba overnight, but were pushed back.
There were reports, too, that Sunni insurgents have attempted to target convoys of Shia volunteers being bussed to the front lines north of the capital.