New York:  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned Friday military strikes against Sunni militants in Iraq could be ineffective and backfire.

He urged feuding communities of Iraq to get united to fight against terrorists who have captured a vast area of the country’s territory.

Ban addressed the Iraq crisis in a speech to the Asia Society on Syria Friday.

The UN chief also denounced sectarian fighting and the reprisals that follow, urging the Iraqi government and its supporters not to retaliate against Sunni communities in revenge for attacks by  the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The Iraqi government has sought US air strikes to stem the insurgency by Sunni extremists who are pressing toward Baghdad.

President Barack Obama has held off for now, but Thursday he announced the US is prepared to send up to 300 military advisers to Iraq to train, advise and support Iraqi forces in their fight against insurgency. He stressed that American forces would not be returning to combat in Iraq.

Ban warned that “military strikes against ISIL might have little lasting effect or even be counter productive if there is no movement towards inclusive government in Iraq”.

Calling sectarian warfare is “a disaster for all”, Ban said it is imperative that the Iraqi government and its supporters avoid reprisals against Sunni communities.

“The Sunni extremists of (ISIL) are trying to show that the governments in Baghdad, Iran, and the United States are working together to support atrocities against Sunnis,” Ban said.

“This would help them mobilise support from the Sunni majority that does not share the extremists’ agenda. It is essential that the government of Iraq and its supporters do everything possible to avoid falling into this trap.”

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