Zee Media Bureau
Washington: The United States said Monday the declaration by Sunni militants of an "Islamic caliphate" on territory they have seized in Iraq and Syria has "no meaning."
"We have seen these types of words from ISIL before," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters, referring to militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
"This declaration has no meaning for the people in Iraq and Syria," she said, adding that the militants -- who have now renamed their group the Islamic State -- were just trying "to control people by fear."
Three Weeks That Led To “Islamic Caliphate”
In just three weeks, jihadists have led a lighting advance by Sunni Arab militants through northern and north-central Iraq and declared an "Islamic caliphate" straddling Iraq and neighbouring Syria.
Their offensive has left more than 1,000 people dead, displaced hundreds of thousands and piled pressure on Iraq`s Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
The following is a timeline:
June 10: Sunni Arab militants, led by jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), seize Iraq`s second biggest city Mosul. Many security personnel simply abandon their weapons and uniforms and flee.
June 11: The insurgents seize executed dictator Saddam Hussein`s hometown Tikrit, capital of Salaheddin province.
ISIL spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani promises the militants will press their advance to Baghdad.
June 12: Kurdish forces take over Kirkuk to protect the northern oil hub from the militants, who have taken over several mainly Sunni Arab towns in the west of the province.
June 13: Top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani urges Iraqis to take up arms against the militants advancing on the capital.
June 19 : The insurgents attempt to seize Iraq`s biggest oil refinery outside the northern town of Baiji but, after 24 hours of heavy fighting, the army regains control.
US President Barack Obama says Washington is prepared to send up to 300 military advisers to study how to train and equip Iraqi forces.
June 20: Sistani says the jihadists must be expelled quickly from Iraq and that the next government must avoid "past mistakes", an apparent rebuke to Maliki, premier since 2006 and accused of sectarian policies towards the Sunni Arab minority.
June 23: Insurgents overrun the strategic Shiite-majority northern town of Tal Afar and its airport.
June 27: The US military starts flying armed drones over Baghdad.
June 28: Thousands of Iraqi forces, backed by aircraft, launch an counter-offensive to retake Tikrit.
June 29: ISIL declares an "Islamic caliphate" -- extending from Aleppo in northern Syria to Diyala province northeast of Baghdad. Renaming itself the Islamic State (IS), it declares its chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi "caliph" and "leader for Muslims everywhere".
June 30 : Iraqi troops press their fightback against Tikrit, but an officer acknowledges they are still only on the outskirts.
With Agency Inputs