Iraq's military flew helicopter gunships into the northern city of Tikrit Saturday in an effort to take back the town from ISIS militants.
This comes more than a week after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria took over the city. The Sunni militant group has swept across Iraq's northern half largely unchallenged — until the last few days. (Via CBS)
But NBC's Richard Engel says Iraq's security forces, with their limited abilities, are in for a tough fight against the battle-hardened ISIS.
RICHARD ENGEL: "But the Iraqi military is not very strong. They're only able to carry out one, two, maybe three of these helicopter assaults against ISIS targets a day." (Via MSNBC)
And CNN now reports a U.S. official has confirmed the American military is flying armed drones over Baghdad to serve as additional protection for American troops still stationed there.
It's part of a growing response to the extremist group, which has contributed to the country's worst crisis since the troop pullout three years ago. The White House ordered 300 military advisors to the country after ISIS seized several cities. (Via USA Today)
The Sunni vs. Shiite violence has encouraged talks of a new national unity government in which both of these Muslim sects could rule together. (Via BBC)
Time writes that there is growing pressure for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to step aside to make way for that government rather than run for a third term. Maliki is widely blamed for causing added division between the Sunnis and Shiites during his eight years in office. (Via RT)
And according to The New York Times, a Shiite cleric has urged voters to choose a new prime minister by Monday when the newly elected parliament is expected to go into session.