DUBAI - Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said on Wednesday that the deteriorating security situation in Iraq shows signs of a "civil war".

"This grave situation that is storming Iraq carries with it the signs of civil war whose implications for the region we cannot fathom," he told a gathering of Arab and Muslim leaders in Jeddah.

The advance of al Qaida-linked militants stunned the Shi'ite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki last week, whose forces quit several northern Iraqi towns.

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