Iraqi armed Shiite militiamen, followers of Shiite Sheikh Muqtada al-Sadr, parade in the northern oil rich province of Kirkuk, Iraq June 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
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Iraqi soldier Bassil Hassan says that he wept as he abandoned his base in the face of a Sunni militant advance and is desperate to redeem himself by returning to the fight.He stands outside the Iraqi Airways office in the northern city of Arbil, clamouring for a ticket on any plane back to Baghdad to rejoin his unit.Security forces in Mosul and surrounding Ninevah province, as well as Salaheddin and Kirkuk largely wilted when faced with the militant onslaught, which began late June 9 and overran swathes of territory north of Baghdad.Hussein Ali, a 28-year-old army mechanic, was based in Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad.More than half a million Iraqis fled their homes in cities that fell to militants, and many of them are trying to fly south to areas that are still safe, for now.Hassan, like many withdrawing troops, left his weapon behind, but he expects to get a new one when he rejoins his unit.
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