Shiite Militia Reportedly Kill 40 Members of ISIS

Secretary of State John Kerry says there is an "opportunity for Iraq to come up with its own choice that would avoid actually falling into civil war."
12:45 | 06/24/14

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Transcript for Shiite Militia Reportedly Kill 40 Members of ISIS
From him. Celebrating of battlefield victory in Iraq this time it's Shiite militiamen claiming that killed forty -- extremist. A rare setback for the militant groups spreading fear and chaos across. Right now the international hot -- Iraq. -- everyone I'm Michelle. -- sectarian violence tearing at the fabric of Iraq. -- the United States tries Everly diplomatic trick in the book to prevent all out civil war. He sees him as McDonald is in Baghdad with the latest on the war of words and bullets. Good morning Iraqis taking the fight -- to -- is even on the outer edges of Baghdad the military claims it's -- offensive. This seems pretty clear the momentum is still -- these extremist jihadist. Diocese of bonds is false and capturing large chunks of northern and western Iraq this morning that threatening to buckle down and hit deep debt and -- -- -- crossings to both Syria and Jordan. In Mosul -- Qaeda inspired militants but directing traffic but -- -- -- copies of the -- and all of the country's biggest oil refinery. -- G Iraq's military is pushing back launching rockets from helicopter gunships. -- ten days of battle here both sides are now claiming they control this vital piece of infrastructure. Iraq's government desperately wants US airstrikes to help -- the jihadist but it seems they won't get them yet. John Kerry is this morning in their bill in the north he's pushing Iraq's leaders to form a new government. The support will be intense. Sustained. And if Iraq's leaders take the necessary steps to bring the country together. It will be effective. And now this is -- rock -- Deemed it too good these Shiite militias celebrates a battlefield victory -- -- more powerful than he says and we killed forty yards -- -- yes. The White House may have wanted the US military out of Iraq all together it seems pretty clear right now they're being drawn back -- the question days. How fox. -- MacDonald reporting from Baghdad and now we go to ABC's Alex Mark Clark who sat down today. One on one with secretary of state John Kerry in Iraq over what the US options are in this deteriorating situation. Alex. Good morning I sat down with secretary of state John Kerry shortly after arrived here in Kurdistan really the only part of the country that hasn't been gripped by the violence. That has swept Iraq as he did in Baghdad yesterday he is here. To meet with Kurdish political leaders to try to find a path forward to keep the country. From falling apart but in his first meeting with Kurdistan as president he was told we have a new reality here in Iraq. Mr. secretary is Iraq all. Ready in a state of civil war and if so is there really anything that the US can do about it. I know I don't think it mean it's in civil strife I don't think it's in civil war. It could -- there clearly. But at the moment. The Sunni leaders that I met with the -- leaders -- met with this morning. And even some -- -- -- -- that is ultimately yes they -- -- determined. Two. Follow the constitutional process to try to form a government that can be a unity government. And it can pull people together so there's this shot this opportunity for Iraq. To come up -- -- its own choice. That would avoid actually falling into civil war but there is obvious invasion of Beisel. Which is terrorist organization. Is. Pulling some people towards that potential. And our question are 300 American advisors enough to keep them -- -- and if not are you president well America America is not connected from the -- that is not. That is not. The definition here America is gonna help Iraqis. Keep them -- day. And what what what the president has asked me to do is try to assess. What the political appetite here is to be able to put together the kind of government. That can help reconstitute. The army's sufficiently that they have the ability -- put it together. Because of the president were to decide to do something abstract -- the US simply. You know engaging without Iraq's capacity to support that it's going to fail. And nobody wants at least you know nobody and that you know we've already decided. The president has decided the American people have made clear. Nobody wants to see American soldiers coming back here in combat role so you have to look to Iraq to its government to its military. To be able to make the decisive. Difference here and were trying to find out whether or not they're capable of doing this. Former ambassador Ryan Crocker has called crisis al-Qaeda on steroids al-Qaeda itself. Has rejected license as too extremist who is ice is more of a threat to Americans to the world. Then al-Qaeda and -- that long before 9/11. I don't want it creates something out of vices is not yet is it a serious threat yes it is. Do we take it seriously yes we do I don't think we need to make one comparison or another they are a threat. And there are a threat to the region as well as to Iraq itself and the integrity of this country we are committed to try to help Iraqis be able. To fight back. We need to be able to know that we have a government in place. That is not going to exacerbate. The sectarian. Divisions of this country. We need to know there's a government that's prepared. To pull people together share power. End the sectarian division and focus on -- -- and on the long term future. If that happens then the Iraqis themselves have the best opportunity to be able to regain this present bars on it this -- -- this very clearly. That the solution to the areas -- -- -- today is not going to be found -- American military might. The real solutions can be found it doesn't mean you don't need some of it. But the real solution is going to be found. In the Iraqis in those areas. Wanting their community back and -- their lives back. And that's what we have concurred -- -- -- that crisis could launch attacks against United States from this territory that -- captured in eastern Syria in western Iraq. Well they have indicated a desire to do so they've already indicated and rhetoric. Has embraced attacks against the west you think they can not yet but. And certainly one of the considerations we have is to make sure that they never can. But that's exactly what the president is busy trying to determine now is what is the best way to approach that so that we are most effective. And frankly. In a way that is sustainable over the long -- You've said that only Iraqis can choose Iraq's leaders but you have full faith in prime minister nori Al-Maliki. Given the widespread criticism that he has only deepen the sectarian divisions do you think he can lead this country and bring it back together. Well it's not up look if you if I answer that question that -- engaging the United States directly in their choice Russian Iraqis have faith not gonna do that it's up to Iraqis Iraqis have to make their decision. And they are. All the -- that what are busy engaged in the politics of government formation. And it's up you know what we need to do is give them the space to do that over the course of these next days. In seven days the council representatives will convene and elect a speaker elect a president of Iraq and then elect the prime minister. And I have the sense in all of the meetings I've had a commitment trying to do that with the urgency. And and to find a way to pretty created a unity government in which Iraqis can have faith. I hope that can happen and it's imperative that that happens. Because that's the key to really being able to be successful in fighting -- And putting Iraq back together have you found a prime minister morality is out of touch and thinking that he can unite the country. Again you know be inappropriate for me to comment anything except that he is committed to. He says he has committed to the constitutional process. Wants to -- the parliament convened on the first of July. And will work to tried to. Create a government of unity -- a government that can bring Iraq together it's up to the Iraqis in these next days. To make that choice but it is an essential choice. And a prerequisite frankly. To success. Against sisal or to meet any of the other challenges Iraq faces. Before this crisis erupted you would only visited Iraq once as secretary of state quite briefly your predecessor Secretary Clinton had only visited once. There wasn't a great relationship between President Obama. And prime minister -- all that time. Iraq was falling apart just this year thousands of Iraqis have died so my question is why hasn't there been a stronger real diplomatic push until now well. I would disagree with your judgment about. How -- in this what was happening over the course the last few years. As everybody knows Vice President Biden has had a very very strong relationship. And was managing that file for a period of time. And the I think he's visited here any number of times as vice president I came when it was appropriate within those intervals. And I think that and and it was not much -- that had prime minister Maliki visited Washington and we've had. Unbelievable contact. At an unusually high level on a regular basis. Because an assistant secretary of state Brett Mcguirk. Has been here on a regular basis working with our ambassador -- been here for three years two of the most experienced and capable diplomatic hands. And they've been here consistently working this we have plus up. Our assistance to Iraq over the last year we've been deeply engaged in providing additional military assistance additional economic and other kinds of engagement. So you know. Things have happened here that have been negative absolutely. But most people here will tell you. It's not because of the absence of the United States it's because. The Iraqi Government has not been responding adequately to the needs that have been expressed the for instance. -- for. Eight or nine years now people have been fighting to get an oil revenues law in place it's still not done. Constitutional reforms were supposed to be affected they still have not been done. Promises that were made would respect doing exclusivity we're not fulfilled. Those are things that the government has to do. Here and that's one of the reasons why there is a strong movement -- to try to create unity government. And it changed that will reflect. AKA. A confidence. By all political players in the people of Iraq that this is a new moment the new set of possibilities. And they're gonna take advantage of it in the end. Words mean nothing right now today it's the actions of the next week in the next days and -- make the difference and as they say the proof will be in the putting. Not in the promises today new actions means new leader. It means what the Iraqi People decide it means means a new direction that for certain. It means a new inclusive process for certain. Whether the Iraqi People decide it's going to be a new leader -- -- is up to them. But we need a new government that comes together with whichever leaders they choose in order to move the process forward and that is the best and only way. To have the kind of success in the long term that Iraq needs and deserves. Secretary Kerry says Iraqi leaders understand the necessity of creating a new government as soon as possible. But who will -- that government and whether they can prevent a total collapse in Iraq. Is far from certain. Back to you. ABC's -- Mark Clark in Iraq with the secretary of state thanks for that report. A reminder you can keep up with the developing situation in Iraq and real time. I downloaded the ABC news -- story this story for exclusive updates on the go. You've been watching an international hot spot on Michelle Franzen in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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