John Kerry Says in Iraq That Insurgents Threaten Future of Iraq

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Declaring that the future of Iraq is at stake, Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday pledged “intense and sustained” American support to fight a vicious insurgency, and he urged the prime minister to bring Shiite and Sunni Muslims together to overcome the crisis.

Kerry met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, and said that Maliki had committed to a July 1 parliamentary convention to pick a new Iraqi government.

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The United States is sending 300 military advisers to help Iraq beat back a Sunni insurgent group, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, which has seized cities in the Iraqi north and claims to have executed Iraqi security forces.

Using another acronym for the group, Kerry said: “ISIL is fighting to divide Iraq and to destroy Iraq. So this is a critical moment for Iraq’s future.”

The United States has not ruled out a military strike against the insurgents. But Kerry stressed the need for Maliki to bridge a divide between Shiites and alienated Sunnis in Iraq.

The factions must come to together to fight the insurgents, “not next week, not next month, but now,” he said.

“The very future of Iraq depends on choices that will be made in the next days and weeks,” he said.

— Andrea Mitchell and Erin McClam