US urges Iraqi unity to defeat violent insurgency


WASHINGTON (AP) — As a Sunni Muslim insurgency gains ground in Iraq, the United States is pondering whether the violent march could be slowed with new leadership in Baghdad after years of divisive policies.

But with no obvious replacement for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — and no apparent intent on his part to step down — Washington is largely resigned to continue working with him for a third term as Iraq's premier.

Iraq's unrest has surged this year to levels not seen since 2007 as insurgents with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have taken over several mostly Sunni areas, including the northern city of Mosul this week.

Mosul's fall marked a stunning defeat for al-Maliki's security forces and raises new questions about his ability to protect Iraq.

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