The rout continues.

BAGHDAD, June 25 (Reuters) – Militants attacked one of Iraq’s largest air bases and seized control of several small oilfields on Wednesday as U.S. military experts arrived to set up an operations center to help Iraqi security forces counter a mounting Sunni insurgency.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who is fighting for his job and is under international pressure to create a more inclusive government, said he supported starting the process of forming a new government within a week.

In northern Iraq the Sunni militants extended a two-week advance that has been led by the hardline Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) but also includes an amalgam of other Sunni groups angered by Maliki’s rule.

They blame him for marginalizing their sect during eight years in power. The fighting threatens to rupture the country two and a half years after the end of U.S. occupation.

Baghdad is racing against time as the insurgents consolidate their grip on Sunni provinces.

On Wednesday, militants overran the Ajeel oil site, 30 km (19 miles) east of Tikrit, which contains at least three small oilfields that produce 28,000 barrels per day, an engineer working at the field said.

The engineer said local tribes had taken responsibility for protecting the fields after police withdrew but that they also left after the nearby town of al-Alam was seized by militants. […]

Militants including ISIL and allied Sunni tribes battled Iraqi forces in the town of Yathrib, 90 km north of Baghdad, into the early hours of Wednesday, witnesses and the deputy head of the municipality said. Four militants were killed, they said.

Insurgents have surrounded a massive air base nearby, which was known as “Camp Anaconda” under U.S. occupation, and struck it with mortars.

Eyewitnesses said the air base had been surrounded on three sides.

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