Police found the bodies of four Sunni men on the streets of Baghdad last night, an indication that the violence has spread to the Iraqi capital -- even before ISIS militants reached the city.
The men, aged between 25 and 30, were found in a mostly Shiite section of the city. Each sustained several gunshots. According to the New York Times, finding bodies in the street is not unprecedented and could be a sign of greater violence to come:
Bodies being found in streets and empty lots was characteristic of the worst days of sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007, much of it the work of Shiite militias who carried out extrajudicial killings and kidnappings. At the peak of the violence, as many as 80 bodies a day were found in Baghdad and its immediate suburbs.
Meanwhile, ISIS has been steadily making its way towards the city. The al-Qaeda offshoot briefly captured parts of Baquba, located about 37 miles away from Baghdad, in a violent gunfight against Iraqi troops that lasted for hours overnight, per the BBC:
Government sources say Baquba - capital of Diyala province on the northern approaches to Baghdad - saw Sunni rebels take control of several districts on the western outskirts of the city before these were regained by government troops and allied Shia militia.
It appears that the Iraqi army has managed to regain control, for the moment:
#Iraq Attack on Baquba last night. Fighters took several neighbourhoods but Army says it beat them back. City is 37 miles from Baghdad.— Tim Marshall (@Skytwitius) June 17, 2014
At least 44 prisoners being held in a local police station were killed in the clashes, and the UN adds that it believes ISIS has summarily executed hundreds since last week.
Both incidents followed President Barack Obama's announcement that he will deploy 275 military personnel to protect U.S. assets in the country, though a boots-on-the-ground option remains off the table.