MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Fighting continues in Iraq with government forces continuing to try and hold off the advances of Sunni militants.

The appearance this weekend of the militant spiritual leader Abu Bakr al – Baghdadi at a mosque in Mosul, despite a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head, is seen as a further sign of how emboldened the rebels have become.

Questions are also growing over whether the U.S. should back an effort to replace the current president of Iraq, Nouri Al-Maliki.

Radical extremists in Iraq have now captured large areas of the country on the same battlefields where thousands of American soldiers died fighting.

The collapse of the Iraqi trained army has left President Obama struggling for a response that meets the growing threat of this radical movement that is sweeping not just Iraq but the entire region. The fear is that as radicals gain control of more of the region they will have a new staging ground for anti-American terrorist attacks.

Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison is the first Muslim elected to Congress and has traveled extensively in the region. He appeared on WCCO Sunday Morning.

“This situation is negotiable. I think we should look at diplomatic solutions involving the regional partners which I think can result in the removal of Al- Maliki, inclusion of more people in the government and, maybe, bring this crisis to a close,” Ellison said.

As the Obama administration weighs military options, it is also pushing for an Iraqi government to include all factions.

But the current sectarian divide in Iraq goes back to the 7th century and unity now seems even more difficult to attain as the bloodshed only escalates.

You can watch WCCO Sunday Morning every Sunday with Matt Brickman and Esme Murphy at 6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

Esme Murphy