Iraqi security forces fire artillery during clashes with Sunni militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria in Jurf al-Sakhar June 14, 2014. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani
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Western embassies began evacuating staff from Baghdad Monday despite Iraq's claim it was repelling militants who have captured vast amounts of territory in a lightning offensive that has shaken regional stability.The move flew in the face of Iraqi government claims that it was making progress retaking territory from militants, who currently hold most or parts of four provinces north of Baghdad.Iraq said on Sunday that security forces had killed 279 militants, and said soldiers had recaptured two towns north of Baghdad. The US condemned a massacre in which ISIS militants appear to have killed scores of soldiers around the conflict-hit city of Tikrit, while the burned bodies of 12 policemen were also found in the town of Ishaqi.After days of unrest elsewhere in the Sunni Arab-majority north and west of Iraq, militants launched an assault on the country's second-biggest city Mosul, and swiftly moved down to Tikrit, executed dictator Saddam Hussein's hometown.
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