As it happened: Insurgency in Iraq

Key points

  • Iraq formally asks the US to launch air strikes against jihadist militants who have seized several key cities
  • Iraq's army says it has repelled an Islamist-led militant attack on the Baiji oil refinery, the country's biggest
  • Government forces carry out new air strikes on militants advancing towards the capital Baghdad
  • US President Barack Obama is due to discuss Iraq with senior Congress members on Wednesday
  • Iran says it will not "spare any effort" to defend Shia holy shrines in Iraq
  • All times GMT

Live text

Reporting:

  • Sarah Fowler 
  • Yaroslav Lukov 
  • Jastinder Khera 
  • Mario Cacciottolo 

Last updated 18 June 2014

STANDARD 17:00

This brings to an end our live coverage of fast-moving events in Iraq, where Sunni insurgents are continuing to battle government forces, amid concerns they would move on the capital Baghdad. Thanks for staying with us! You can still follow all the latest developments on this and other stories on the BBC News website.

STANDARD 16:49

"[ISIS] threatens all Iraqi people. And therefore should be a national stance from what is happening, a stance which is adopted by people from all sects," Sheikh al-Karbalai adds.

Sheikh al-Karbalai

STANDARD 16:48

BBC Arabic has spoken to Sheikh Abdulmehdi al-Karbalai, a representative of Iraq's top Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani, who earlier this week issued a call to arms against the militants. "They [ISIS] have publically announced that they will destroy all shrines... Their existence threatens Sunnis, Christians, and people from other religious beliefs," he said.

STANDARD 16:34

The statistics show a major ISIS focus, over the past two years, on Nineveh province, which may help to explain the Iraqi army's headlong flight from Mosul last week, our correspondent adds.

STANDARD 16:33

Paul Adams, BBC World Affairs correspondent

Get past the gruesome audit of violence - the numbers of people ISIS claim to have killed through car bombs, suicide attacks and even "apostates run over" - and a picture emerges of an "increasingly structured organisation," in the words of an analysis by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

STANDARD 16:29

More from Gen Dempsey (see 15:40 entry). He tells a Senate committee meeting that it is in America's "national interest to counter [ISIS] wherever we find them".

STANDARD 16:27

Iraqi Turkmens held a protest rally in Ankara against the killing of Shia ethnic Turkmen by militants in Iraq.

Iraqi Turkmens stage a protest in Ankara, Turkey. Photo: 18 June 2014

STANDARD 16:24

Barcin Yinanc, of Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper, tells the BBC: "Turkey was one of the countries who has long before warned about (Iraqi PM) Maliki's exclusive policies... which were leading to disaster".

STANDARD 16:18

John Simpson, BBC News, Baghdad

says that "so far, ISIS has been operating solely in Sunni areas". He adds: "After years of neglect of Sunnis, ISIS is playing on this feeling of resentment."

STANDARD 16:14

Jordan's Prince Hassan bin Talal tells the BBC there is a "need for a regional stabilisation programme" to defuse the crisis. "Fighting should be contained and there should be a ceasefire," he adds.