Pressure builds on Iraq's Maliki to step aside - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, Florida-

Pressure builds on Iraq's Maliki to step aside

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Iraq's parliament met on Tuesday and became deadlocked. (Source: FOX) Iraq's parliament met on Tuesday and became deadlocked. (Source: FOX)

WASHINGTON, DC (FOX) - Pressure is mounting for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to step down as large parts of the country have fallen under to Sunni militants.

The Iraqi military is stepping up its attack against the extremist insurgency.

Despite making alarming advances in Iraq, militants trying to take over Baghdad have been slowed.

American military planners are taking a measure of the Iraqi armed forces.

"Will they hold? What's their makeup? Are they still a force that represents all Iraqis? When we have that assessment in hand ... we'll make some decisions," said Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

While Iraqi forces make strides the country is in politico limbo.

Iraq's new parliament met for the first time on Tuesday and ended in gridlock without appointing any key posts.

Iraqi parties are jockeying to replace Maliki who is seen as part of the cause for sectarian violence.

The U.S. has repeated calls for Iraq to form a new government in order to stabilize the region.

"We are engaged in a sustained effort to push Iraqis to form a new inclusive government," said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

Maliki, in his weekly televised address, expressed hope that parliament could meet next week and get past its "state of weakness."

But some wonder if Iraq will be able to accomplish this task without outside assistance.

"The Iraqis are not politically developed to the point they can run the train on their own. We are wired into the system. And our effective disengagement in 2011 led to a downward spiral that has brought us to where we are," said Ryan Crocker, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.

The United Nations released new statistics on the toll of violence in Iraq. In June, at least 2,400 Iraqis died and about 2,200 were injured.

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