From left, Poland's FM Radoslaw Sikorski, Sweden's Carl Bildt and Bulgaria's Nickolay Mladenov attend a press conference in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, June 22, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
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Iraq's prime minister urged Al-Qaeda-linked fighters who have overrun two cities west of Baghdad to give up the battle, vowing Wednesday to press forward with a push to regain control of the mainly Sunni areas.Violence spiked after the Dec. 28 arrest of a Sunni lawmaker sought on terrorism charges and the government's dismantling of a months-old anti-government Sunni protest camp in the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi.The militant gains in the Sunni-dominated province of Anbar are posing the most serious challenge to the Shiite-led government since American forces withdrew in late 2011 after years of bitter warfare following the 2003 invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein's Sunni-led regime and propelled the formerly repressed Shiite majority to power.U.N. envoy to Iraq Nickolay Mladenov warned that the humanitarian situation in Anbar is likely to worsen as military operations continue.
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