Iraq general on militant onslaught: "Our goal is to liberate our cities"

Fears of sectarian killings in Baghdad 02:27

On the road into Mosul, the charred remains of military equipment were left as Iraqi soldiers fled.

Video shot by a local journalist for a French news channel offers a rare glimpse of life in the city, one week after it was taken over by the al Qaeda splinter group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The markets are open and well stocked, but masked gunmen roam the streets. A long line snakes outside the ISIS recruiting center.

In Baghdad, there is also recruiting - as thousands of volunteers join Shiite militias. Rallies are now a daily occurrence. Fighters told us they consider it a sacred duty to defend their city.

Across town, markets were far quieter than usual today.

Few people in Baghdad believe that ISIS will actually march into the capital but what they fear is a surge in the number of bombings as this city already averages about eight a day.

This map shows U.S. presence in Iraq (blue), areas of ISIS control (red) and locations of CBS News reporting (yellow). CBS/The Long War Journal/Google Maps

General Saad Ibrahim is a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, the department in charge of Iraq's internal security.

"Our goal is to liberate our cities," the general said.

He denies Iraq is in the midst of a sectarian civil war and that arming Shiite volunteers is a dangerous idea.

When Ward suggested that creating Shiite militias reignites sectarian tensions, Ibrahim said they don't have militias.

"We have tribe, we have tribes," he said. "And you can see the tribes. We must liberate Iraq - and Iraq for Sunni and for Shia and for Christian."

But we may already be seeing a new wave of sectarian killings in the capital. Tuesday morning, the bodies of four young men, believed to be Sunnis, were found in a Shiite militia-dominated neighborhood. They had been shot numerous times - a chilling reminder of the period in 2006-2007 when sectarian death squads terrorized this city.

  • Clarissa Ward
    Clarissa Ward

    Foreign Correspondent, CBS News