Militant Islamist fighters take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014. (REUTERS/Stringer)
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Iraq's newly-elected parliament convenes Tuesday to begin choosing a government, with premier Nouri al-Maliki's bid for a third term battered by a Sunni militant offensive threatening to tear Iraq apart.World leaders and senior religious authorities have urged Iraq's fractious politicians to unite in the face of the militant onslaught, which has killed more than 2,000 people, displaced hundreds of thousands and polarized the country's Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish populations. Iraq has appealed for U.S. air strikes in the face of the offensive and has purchased more than a dozen Russian warplanes to bolster its fledgling air force as it takes the fight to militants holding a string of towns and cities. Iraq's Shiite premier has been criticized by his domestic opponents as being sectarian and for consolidating power, leading to resentment among the minority Sunni population and spawning the militant advance.
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