Raw: Hundreds in Baghdad Volunteers to Fight

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A group of Shiite men brandishing weapons and flags held a rally in Baghdad's Sadr City on Saturday, answering a call by the country's top Shiite cleric to join the fight against Sunni militants advancing in the north. (June 14)

SHOTLIST:

AP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLY

Baghdad, Iraq - June 14, 2014

1. Various of men from Sadr City marching through streets chanting, waving guns, and flags

STORYLINE:

A group of Shiite men brandishing weapons and flags held a rally in Baghdad's Sadr City on Saturday, answering a call by the country's top Shiite cleric to join the fight against Sunni militants advancing in the north.

The men, who identified themselves as the Albu Mohamed clan, said they were joining the nation's beleaguered security forces to battle the Sunni group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has launched a lightning advance across the country.

The massive response to the call by the Iranian-born Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued via his representative on Friday, comes as sectarian tensions are threatening to push the country back toward civil war in the worst crisis since US forces withdrew at the end of 2011.

Fighters from the al-Qaida splinter group, drawing support from former Saddam Hussein-era figures and other disaffected Sunnis, have made dramatic gains in the Sunni heartland north of Baghdad after overrunning Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul on Tuesday.

Soldiers and policemen have melted away in the face of the lightning advance, and thousands have fled to the self-rule Kurdish region in northern Iraq.

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