Iraqi Shiite volunteers from the University of Basra that have joined government forces to fight Sunni jihadists from ISIS take part in a graduation ceremony in Basra August 23, 2014. (AFP Photo/Haidar Mohammad Ali)
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Iraq was massing forces Wednesday for an operation to break a two-month jihadist siege of the Shiite Turkmen town of Amerli, amid growing fears for residents short of food and water.According to a civilian volunteer commander, thousands of Shiite militiamen from groups including Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Badr Organization are gathering in the Tuz Khurmatu area of Salaheddin province, just north of Amerli, in preparation for a battle to break the siege.Iraqi aircraft have being targeting positions of Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) jihadists around Amerli, and carried out nine strikes Tuesday, an officer said.U.N. Iraq envoy Nickolay Mladenov has called for an urgent effort to help Amerli, saying residents who have been under siege for more than two months face a "possible massacre" if it is overrun.Nine countries have now committed to providing arms to Iraq's Kurdish peshmerga troops, who are fighting ISIS jihadists in north and east Iraq.
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