Iraq PM promises protection

IRAQ’S Shiite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Saturday that he had ordered his air force to halt strikes on civilian areas, following attacks by both Iraqi and US jets in large areas of the country held by Islamic State fighters.

The announcement, which comes as the US tries to build regional support for deeper military action against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, may be aimed at winning Sunni Muslim support for Mr Abadi’s new Shiite-led government as it battles the group which controls one third of Iraqi territory.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has been touring the Middle East to co-ordinate a response to Islamic State’s growing power in eastern Syria and western Iraq.

In Cairo on Saturday, he said Egypt had a critical role to play in countering the group’s hardline Sunni Islamist ideology.

Mr Abadi said his order to protect civilians had been issued on Thursday.

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