Cleric To Iraqis: Take Up Arms, Defend Your Country

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Members of Iraqi security forces chant slogans in Baghdad

In a latest development in Iraq’s unrest, representative of the country’s most senior Shi’ite cleric has  urged people to take up arms and defend the nation from Islamist militants.

Sheikh Abdulmehdi al Karbalai, a representative for Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani, said: “People who are capable of carrying arms and fighting the terrorists in defence of their country … should volunteer to join the security forces to achieve this sacred goal.”

Sunni insurgents are edging closer to the country’s capital after seizing large swathes of territory as they head south on the road from Mosul to Baghdad.

Along the way the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters have been parading seized military equipment and flying the black and white flag of the Islamic caliphate, or state, they hope to create.

General Lord Richard Dannatt, former chief of the general staff, told Sky news that the “bitter conflict is almost a fight for the soul of Islam itself”.

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