Raw: Thousands in Iraq Join Fight Against ISIL

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Thousands of Iraqi Shiite muslims headed to training centers on Sunday to join the fight against the Islamic militant group which has captured large areas of territory north of the capital Baghdad. (June 22)

SHOTLIST:

AP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLY

Baghdad, Iraq - June 22, 2014

1. Wide of volunteers seated on ground in a military camp

2. Volunteers chanting and dancing, some holding guns in the air

3. Volunteers getting into trucks

4. Trucks lined up along road

5. Various of trucks filled with volunteers driving towards training center

6. Various of cars driving through checkpoints manned by police

7. Close of policeman

8. Close of gun

9. Police watching passing cars through checkpoint

10. Close of policeman holding gun

11. Close of gun on back of truck, cars passing in background

STORYLINE:

Thousands of Iraqi Shiite muslims headed to training centres on Sunday to join the fight against the Islamic militant group which has captured large areas of territory north of the capital Baghdad.

The volunteers pledged to join the nation's beleaguered security forces to battle the Sunni militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), following a recent call from their spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most respected voice for Iraq's Shiite majority.

Sunni militants seized Rutba, western Anbar province, about 90 miles (150 kilometres) east of the Jordanian border, late on Saturday, officials said on Sunday.

The towns of Qaim, Rawah, Anah and Rutba are the first seized in predominantly Sunni Anbar province since fighters from the ISIL overran the city of Fallujah and parts of the provincial capital of Ramadi earlier this year.

The group is now prepared to take the battle to Baghdad and cities farther south housing revered Shiite shrines.

As a result, Iraqi authorities have imposed tough security measures in and around the city.

However, the call to arms from al-Sistani may increase the possibility of the turmoil in Iraq evolving into a sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki's Shiite-dominated government has struggled to push back against the Sunni militants, who have seized large swaths of the country's north since taking control of the second-largest city of Mosul on June 10 as troops melted away.

The prime minister, who has led the country since 2006 and has not yet secured a third term after recent parliamentary elections, has increasingly turned to Iranian-backed Shiite militias and volunteers to bolster his beleaguered security forces.

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