Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria killed over two dozen volunteer Shiite fighters today outside the holy city of Samarra—the first such attack since Shiites began signing up against ISIS, the New York Times reports. The volunteers, aiming to reinforce Iraqi defenses in Samarra, were traveling in refrigerator trucks when a roadside bomb went off and Sunni insurgents opened fire. The insurgents have threatened to level a Shiite shrine in Samarra; an attack on the shrine 8 years ago triggered sectarian fighting across the country. In other news:
- The White House is shipping about 275 military personnel to defend the US embassy in Baghdad, CNN reports.
- The Obama administration is publicly flirting with the idea of teaming up with Iran to counter the Sunni insurgency. John Kerry said he was "open to discussions" with Iran and wouldn't "rule out" military cooperation, the Wall Street Journal reports (but a Pentagon official denied any such cooperation was in the works).
- Iran has reportedly sent its renowned military leader, Gen. Qassim Suleimani, to Iraq along with 500 to 2,000 troops.
- For his part, President Obama said Nouri al-Maliki's government must mend fences with Sunnis as a prerequisite to US military aid.
For more, read about the insurgents' latest military advances and reported massacres.