Islamic fighters make fresh gains in Iraq; Shiite clerics call on Iraqis to defend their country

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BAGHDAD (AP) — Fighters from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have been making additional gains in Iraq -- capturing two towns in an ethnically-mixed province northeast of Baghdad.

And Shiite leaders are calling on Iraqis to defend the country from the Sunni militants who've taken some major cities and other territory. A representative of Iraq's most revered Shiite spiritual leader in Iraq told worshippers in Friday prayers that the country is in "great danger," and that fighting the militants is "everybody's responsibility."

President Barack Obama says he's weighing options for helping Iraq counter the insurgency. But he's warning Iraqi leaders that he won't take military action unless they move to address the country's political troubles.

Meanwhile, the U.N's human rights chief is expressing 'extreme alarm" at reprisal killings, citing reports of hundreds of dead and wounded. She says her office is hearing about "summary executions" -- and that militants rounded up and killed Iraqi army soldiers as well as 17 civilians on a single street in Mosul.

Neighboring Iran is signaling its willingness to confront the growing threat. Iran's official news agency says that country's powerful Revolutionary Guard is ready to fight in Iraq against the militant group.

Iran has built close political and economic ties with postwar Iraq.

%@AP Links

151-c-07-(Adam Schreck, AP correspondent)-"police and military"-AP correspondent Adam Schreck reports that Iraq's government is calling on civilians to help the army take on the militants. (13 Jun 2014)

<<CUT *151 (06/13/14)££ 00:07 "police and military"

176-a-14-(Rupert Colville, spokesman for the U.N. human rights office, at news conference)-"be approaching 1,000"-Rupert Colville, with the U.N. human rights office, says the number of civilian casualties in the Iraqi conflict isn't yet clear. (13 Jun 2014)

<<CUT *176 (06/13/14)££ 00:14 "be approaching 1,000"

APPHOTO DCPM113: President Barack Obama talks about his administration's response to a growing insurgency foothold in Iraq, Friday, June 13, 2014, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, prior to boarding the Marine One Helicopter for Andrews Air Force Base, Md., then onto North Dakota and California. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) (13 Jun 2014)

<<APPHOTO DCPM113 (06/13/14)££

APPHOTO CAI116: This image posted on a militant news Twitter account on Thursday, June 12, 2014 shows militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) people raising their flag at the entrance of an army base in Ninevah Province. Iraq. Fresh gains by insurgents, spearheaded by fighters from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, come as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-led government struggles to form a coherent response after militants overran the country's second-largest city of Mosul, Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit and smaller communities, as well as military and police bases — often after meeting little resistance from state security forces.(AP Photo/albaraka_news) (13 Jun 2014)

<<APPHOTO CAI116 (06/13/14)££

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