Sunni militants seized a key border post on the Iraq-Syria frontier on Saturday, according to a senior Iraqi security official.
The Al-Qaim border crossing and its neighboring Syrian counterpart Albukamal are on a strategic supply route, and the incident led to the deaths of some 30 Iraqi soldiers.
Most of eastern Syria is in the hands of the militants,.. led by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, following a three-year-old civil war, and with the Albukamal-Qaim crossing now in their hands, they are now in position to take over the Iraqi capital.
This is the latest blow to Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has been struggling to maintain his grip on power as the Sunni jihadists continue to try to overthrow the government.
Adding to the tensions, thousands of Shi'ite Iraqis marched through Baghdad in a military parade on Saturday.
The men carried rocket-propelled grenades and rifles, as vehicles carrying weapons filled the streets.
The men are loyal to the powerful cleric Muqtada al-Sadr,.. who has yet to throw his followers into the recent fighting.
He has, however, criticized the Maliki government for mishandling the crisis, and the parade demonstrates that he and his followers stand ready to fight,.. upping the pressure on the government to rally the country together against the extremists.
Yoo Li-an, Arirang News.