Syria may have just fully inserted itself into Iraq's civil war. Syria launched cross-border airstrikes on several parts of Anbar province yesterday, killing at least 57 civilians and wounding more than 120 more, local officials tell CNN. The officials say they used scopes and other equipment to identify the planes, which bore Syrian flags, and returned to Syrian airspace. "Unfortunately, (the) Syrian regime carried out barbarian attacks against civilians in Anbar province," the head of the Anbar provincial council said. "Today we will hold an emergency meeting in Ramadi to address this issue." Iraq initially blamed US drones, notes the Washington Post, which says the strikes were aimed at Sunni militant targets. In other developments:
- Much of Iraq is in the hands of ISIS militants and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is ready to concede that loss temporarily to focus on protecting the capital, Iraqi officials say. The military's best-trained and best-equipped troops have been deployed in Baghdad, and Shiite militias are also focused on protecting the capital and Shiite shrines, the AP reports. ISIS fighters and allied Sunni tribes are battling Iraqi forces in a town just 55 miles north of the city, Reuters reports.
- Maliki also appeared to dash any hopes that he would form a unity government with Sunni rivals, calling any such move a "coup against the constitution and an attempt to end the democratic experience," the BBC reports. He also blamed political rivals for "coordinating" the crisis.
- The Pentagon says the first US troops deployed to assist the Iraqi military have arrived in the country and started work, the BBC reports. Two teams with a total of 40 US troops are now on the front line, and hundreds more will arrive in the days to come.
- The UN says more than 1,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed over the last three weeks of fighting—and that figure is "very much a minimum."
- At Iraq's main oil refinery, fighting between militants and security forces continues, despite the militants' claim to have captured the Baiji facility yesterday, NBC reports. A government spokesman says security forces still control the site and they fought off a dawn raid by militants today.
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