Agence France-Presse in Baghdad

Iraq said it had received the first batch of Sukhoi warplanes from Russia as it pressed a counter-attack on Sunday against Sunni militants whose offensive threatens to tear the country apart.

The government in Iraq led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has asked Washington to mount air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters whose lighting eight-day offensive has placed them close to Baghdad. The US has confirmed the request.


A suicide bomber blew himself up in a Shiite mosque north of Baghdad on Saturday, the deadliest in a series of attacks that left 24 people dead nationwide days ahead of Shiite commemorations.

Including combatants on all sides of the decade-long conflict, as well as yet undocumented civilian fatalities, the figure could rise as high as 174,000, according to the UK-based Iraq Body Count (IBC) group.

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