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Sistani Calls On Iraqis To Confront Islamic State

Iraq's most influential Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has called again on all Iraqis to fight Islamic State insurgents.

Sistani made the call through an aide after Friday Prayer sermons in Karbala.

Sistani also said all sides in Baghdad have agreed on the need to form a "proper" government for the country.

Iraqi government forces and Kurdish peshmerga fighters began operations August 22 to recapture two northern towns from Islamic State militants.

Iraqi troops supported by Iraqi fighter planes advanced toward Saadiya, near the Iranian border.

Iraqi Kurdish forces, backed by U.S. airpower, also moved toward Jalawla, 115 kilometers northeast of Baghdad.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on August 21 said the extremist Islamic State poses a threat "beyond anything we have seen" and is "tremendously well-funded."

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP