BAGHDAD (AP) — An Iranian military commander is visiting Iraq, consulting with officials on how to roll back the al-Qaida breakaway group that's been capturing some key Iraqi cities.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is looking to link areas under its control on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border.
Iraqi officials say the general (Ghasem Soleimani) who commands Iran's elite Quds (kuhdz) force has been inspecting Iraqi defenses, and reviewing plans with top commanders and with Iraqi Shiite militias that are supported by Iran.
He also visited the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala south of Baghdad, home to the most revered Shiite shrines, and areas west of Baghdad where government forces have faced off with Islamic militants for months. The Islamic State has threatened to march to Baghdad, Karbala and Najaf.
The officials say the United States was notified in advance of the visit.
Secretary of State John Kerry said today that the Obama administration is willing to talk to Iran, as both nations look for ways to stop the Iraqi insurgents.
225-a-09-(Jen Psaki (SAH'-kee), spokeswoman, State Department, at news conference)-"along those lines"-State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki says talks with Iran wouldn't be unprecedented. (16 Jun 2014)
<<CUT *225 (06/16/14)££ 00:09 "along those lines"
223-a-08-(Jen Psaki (SAH'-kee), spokeswoman, State Department, at news conference)-"Iraq's neighboring states"-State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki says reaching out to Iran to discuss the militant onslaught in Iraq would make sense. (16 Jun 2014)
<<CUT *223 (06/16/14)££ 00:08 "Iraq's neighboring states"
APPHOTO BAG109: Shiite tribal fighters carry a poster of Shiite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, as they raise their weapons chanting against the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, June 16, 2014. Sunni militants captured a key northern Iraqi town along the highway to Syria early on Monday, compounding the woes of Iraq's Shiite-led government a week after it lost a vast swath of territory to the insurgents in the country's north. (AP Photo/ Nabil Al-Jurani) (16 Jun 2014)
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