Kerry targets Iraq unity during trip

Kerry targets Iraq unity during trip

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He is calling on the Iraqi government on Monday to rise above 'sectarian motivations' to face the ISIS invasion. (Source: CNN) He is calling on the Iraqi government on Monday to rise above 'sectarian motivations' to face the ISIS invasion. (Source: CNN)

(CNN) - Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Iraq on Monday during the country's tensest time since the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Kerry will meet with Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, as well as Sunni and Shiite leaders.

He is calling on the Iraqi government on Monday to rise above "sectarian motivations," echoing earlier comments from President Barack Obama.

"If they're not able to use this moment to form a government that is unified and focused on not maximizing one group's power but rather keeping the country together and dealing with a crisis, there's no amount of American firepower that's going to be able to hold the country together," Obama said.

The Kurdish Peshmerga hold a frontline two hours outside of Baghdad. Not far from them, militants occupy what was an Iraqi military building - now staked with ISIS flags, one of many places in Iraq taken without a fight.

"I think the big surprise was how weak the Iraqi military was. That's the big surprise," Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-CA, said. "There were several hundred ISIS fighters and thousands of Iraqi trained military, and they ran away. That was the shock."

ISIS tightened its grip on western Iraq on Sunday, moving closer to the capital. Iraq's army announced it had strategically withdrawn from at least three towns in Anbar province.

"They're starting to consolidate their gains around the rest of Iraq, in Mosil and Tikrit and Baqubah and other places," Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said. "That is interesting. That tells me that they have an understanding that Baghdad's going to be one big fight for them in a way they haven't seen yet outside of the Sunni triangle."

Copyright 2014 CNN. All rights reserved.

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