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US support for Iraq will be "intense, sustained"... but only if leaders work towards lasting peace

The US Secretary of State John Kerry made the remarks today during a visit Baghdad’s Green Zone.

Image: AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo

US SECRETARY OF of State John Kerry vowed Monday that the United States would provide “intense” support to Iraq to help it battle a militant offensive.

“The support will be intense, sustained, and if Iraq’s leaders take the steps needed to bring the country together it will be effective,” Kerry told reporters after a day of meetings in Baghdad.

He also described the jihadists who have spearheaded an offensive that has overrun swathes of territory north of Baghdad as an “existential threat” to the country.

“It is a moment of decision for Iraq’s leaders,” Kerry said.

“Iraq faces an existential threat and Iraq’s leaders have to meet that threat.”

Kerry made the remarks at the US embassy in Baghdad, in the heavily-fortified Green Zone, after talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other leaders from across the political and communal spectrum.

A major militant offensive, led by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) but involving a raft of other Sunni groups as well, began in Iraq’s main northern city Mosul on June 9.

The militants took the city the following day, swept through the surrounding province of Nineveh and took major parts of four more provinces as well.

Baghdad has appealed for US air strikes against militants, but Washington has not acceded to that request, instead offering up to 300 military advisers.

- © AFP, 2014

Read: In one of his last outings, Eamon Gilmore to discuss what to do in Iraq with other EU ministers >

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