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Declaration of Isis caliphate doesn't mean anything, says US

The militants, who have seized a large swath of territory in northern and western Iraq.

Rebels parade in the northern city of Mosul.
Rebels parade in the northern city of Mosul.
Image: AP Photo

THE UNITED STATES has said the declaration by Sunni militants of an “Islamic caliphate” on territory they have seized in Iraq and Syria has “no meaning.”

“We have seen these types of words or comparable claims from ISIL before,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militant group.

“This declaration has no meaning for the people in Iraq and Syria,” she said, adding that it just “exposed the true nature of this organization and its desire to control people by fear.”

The militants, who have seized a large swath of territory in northern and western Iraq and also control areas in neighboring Syria, have now renamed their group the Islamic State.

“This is a critical moment for the international community, for countries in the region, for all of the Iraqi people to unite against the threats that they face,” Psaki said, while stressing she did not want to “overemphasize” the declaration’s impact.

The White House said the jihadists spearheading the offensive in Iraq had waged “a campaign of terror of gross acts of violence and repressive ideology that pose a grave threat to Iraq’s future.”

“ISIL is not fighting for a stronger Iraq. ISIL is fighting to destroy Iraq. And that’s why you’ve seen this administration work closely with Iraq’s political leaders to encourage them to unite the country as they confront this existential threat,” spokesman Josh Earnest said.

With Iraq’s parliament scheduled to hold its opening session Tuesday following April elections, Psaki said Washington was “continuing to urge Iraqi leaders to come to an agreement on the three critical posts that are key to forming Iraq’s next government.”

In an audio recording released online Sunday, the militants said their caliphate would spread from Aleppo in northern Syria to Diyala in eastern Iraq, and ordered Muslims in those areas to “obey” and pledge allegiance to their new leader.

BBC News reports that fresh clashes are taking place around the city of Tikrit, including air strike that reportedly damaged Saddam Hussein’s palace.

- © AFP, 2014

Read: ISIS declares a new Islamic state in Iraq >

Opinion: An opponent like ISIS cannot be defeated through standard military action >

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