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June 23, 2014

The crisis in Iraq: Thousands train to fight against militant Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

With the Iraqi military facing a huge crisis, tens of thousands of Iraqis answered the government's call for volunteers to fight the predominantly Sunni militants from the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Newly-recruited volunteers are undergoing military training in various parts of the country. --Thea Breite (14 photos total)

Shi'ite volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants from the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), stand at attention during military training in Najaf, June 22, 2014. (Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters)

A volunteer in the newly formed "Peace Brigades" trains near the Imam Ali shrine in the southern holy Shiite city of Najaf, Iraq, Friday, June 20, 2014, after calls by the radical Shiite cleric Muqtatda al-Sadr to form brigades to protect Shiite holy shrines against possible attacks by Sunni militants. (Jaber al-Helo/AP) #

An Iraqi man who volunteered to join the battle against jihadist-led Sunni militants takes part in a training organized by the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), an Iraqi Shiite political party, on June 18, 2014, in the southern city of Basra. Saudi Arabia warned of the risks of a civil war in Iraq with unpredictable consequences for the region, after Sunni militants seized large areas from Shiite-led government forces. (Mohamad Ali Harissi/AFP/Getty Images) #

Mehdi Army fighters loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr march during a military training in Najaf June 19, 2014. The United States is contemplating talks with its arch-enemy Iran to support the Iraqi government in its battle with Sunni Islamist insurgents who routed Baghdad's army and seized the north of the country in the past week. (Ahmad Musa/Reuters) #

Volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi security forces to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants from the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) who have taken over Mosul and other northern provinces, take part in a training session in Kerbala, about 80 km (50 miles) southwest of Baghdad, June 19, 2014. (Mushtaq Muhammed/Reuters) #

A Mehdi Army fighter loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gestures during military training in Najaf June 19, 2014. (Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters) #

Mehdi Army fighters march during a military training in Najaf June 20, 2014. Iraqi forces were massing north of Baghdad on Friday, aiming to strike back at Sunni Islamists whose drive toward the capital prompted the United States to send military advisers to stiffen government resistance. (Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters) #

Mehdi Army fighters participate in military training in the street in Basra, southeast of Baghdad, June 20, 2014. (Essam Al-Sudani/Reuters) #

Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take part in a training session on June 23, 2014 in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. A major militant offensive, led by jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant but involving other groups as well, has overrun swathes of five Iraqi provinces since it was launched on June 9. (Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images) #

Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters train in their camp in Arbil on June 14, 2014. Iraqi security forces retook a town north of Baghdad from jihadist militants as they readied a fightback after the premier Nuri al-Maliki announced that the cabinet granted him "unlimited powers" as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. (Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images) #

Newly-recruited Iraqi volunteers in army uniforms attend a training session on June 20, 2014, in the southern city of Basra as thousands of Shiite volunteers join Iraqi security forces in the fight against Jihadist militants who have taken over several northern Iraqi cities. Dozens of Iraqis crowd shops in central Baghdad scouting for military helmets, boots and camouflage uniforms as they prepare to volunteer to fight against a major militant offensive. (Haidar Mohammed Ali/AFP/Getty Images) #

Shiite Iraqi volunteers with the Ashura Brigade, take part in a military training in Najaf on June 22, 2014. US Secretary of State John Kerry on a surprise Egypt visit urged Iraqi leaders to rise above sectarianism, and said Washington was not responsible for the country's crisis. (Haidar Mohammed Ali/AFP/Getty Images) #

Newly-recruited Iraqi volunteers in army uniforms attend a training session on June 20, 2014, in the southern city of Basra.(Haidar Mohammed Ali/AFP/Getty Images) #

Members of the Shiite Muslim Mehdi Army militia, take part in training in the southern Iraqi city of Basra on June 17, 2014. Iraqi Shiite volunteers, who had been fighting in neighboring Syria, have been heading home to battle an offensive that has brought militants near Baghdad, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. (AFP PHOTO/Getty Images) #

 
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