The Islamist militant onslaught in Iraq raises the spectre of a sectarian conflict spilling across the embattled nation’s borders, UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned on Tuesday.
“I’m deeply concerned about the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Iraq, including the reports of mass summary executions by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),” Ban told reporters in Geneva.
“There is a real risk of further sectarian violence on a massive scale within Iraq and beyond its borders,” he said.
The ISIL militants, rooted in Iraq’s Sunni Muslim community, are battling the Shiite-run central government which has ruled since dictator Saddam Hussein was ousted by a US-led coalition in 2003.
The militants, who have found favour among Sunni former Saddam supporters, have taken control of one province and parts of three others north of Baghdad since they began their assault last week.
They are said to have killed scores of captured Iraqi soldiers, as well as targetting civilians and abducting dozens of Turkish diplomats.