In a visit to Baghdad on Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry pressed Iraq's leaders to put aside sectarian differences and form an inclusive government as the Pentagon prepared to deploy military advisers to assess Iraq's security forces and the insurgent threat they face.
The United States hopes to push Iraq's Shiite-dominated government to reconcile with rival Sunnis as it weighs additional military support for Iraq's beleaguered armed forces.
"The future of Iraq depends primarily on the ability of Iraq's leaders to come together and take a stand united against ISIL," Kerry said, referring to the al-Qaeda splinter group that has taken control of key towns in recent weeks. The group, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, over the weekend seized key border crossings into neighboring Syria and Jordan and four other towns.
ISIL succeeded in seizing Iraq's main oil refinery Monday, the BBC reports. The militants have kept the refinery at Beiji under siege for 10 days and made several attempts to take control of the facility during that time.