Sunni militants in Iraq are increasing their presence after declaring an "Islamic state." Analysts say the unilateral action could provoke a backlash from local Sunni Iraqis who have been supporting them.
Sunnis have voiced their support of the militants in protest of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's administration that favors the Shia majority.
Militants released an online audio statement on Sunday declaring the establishment of a new Islamic state in seized territory.
They say they will no longer use the names "Iraq" or "the Levant".
The statement names leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the ruler of the Muslim community known as caliph, and urges Muslims everywhere to be loyal to him. The group is also tightening control over occupied territory.
After seizing territory in northern Iraq, they are continuing fierce battles with military troops across the country.
Experts say the rebels timed the declaration to coincide with the 1st day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in a bid to encourage Muslims to join their movement.
Jun. 30, 2014 - Updated 20:11 UTC