Islamist militants have claimed another city in Iraq, the second this week.
One day after taking control of Iraq's second city of Mosul on Tuesday, militants from the ISIL, an offshoot of al-Qaeda, overran the city of Tikrit, which lies just 150 kilometers north of Baghdad.
And the militant group promises more attacks to come.
In a 17-minute audio recording released Thursday, a spokesman for the ISIL threatens more fighting in Iraqi cities, including in the capital Baghdad.
Authorities have not been able to confirm the authenticity of the tape or when it was recorded.
The turn of events represent a huge blow to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's attempt to fend back the insurgency, which has made massive strides since U.S. troops left the country last year.
He also took aim at the security personnel who fled the city of Mosul instead of defending their posts.
"I am saying this is a 'conspiracy' because the numbers of al-Qaeda and ISIL forces could not have confronted the army and police forces that were located there. But what has happened? And how have the military units collapsed?"
The U.S. has pledged appropriate assistance to help the Iraqi government and security forces.
The New York Times on Wednesday reported that Prime Minister Maliki secretly asked the Obama admnistration to conduct airstrikes on al Qaeda militant targets in Iraq.
"We are working with Iraqis from across the country to support a coordinated response, and you can expect we will provide additional assistance to the Iraqi government to combat the threat."
During his trip to Greece on Tuesday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said his fellow leaders must unite to face a mortal threat.
Zebari added that Baghdad would work with forces from Kurdistan to drive the fighters out of Mosul.
Kim Hyun-bin, Arirang News.