BAGHDAD (AFP) -- Hisham Issa Kamel slipped out of his home in Baghdad early Friday and headed to a recruitment centre, joining thousands of others signing up to fight an offensive by Sunni Arab militants.
His wife opposed the move, but she did not understand how serious the situation in the country has become, "so I did not listen to her," Kamel said.
The assault spearheaded by jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group has overrun a vast swathe of northern and north central Iraq, driving south towards the capital.
With the security forces seemingly unable to halt the advance, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced that the government would arm civilian volunteers.thousands of others at a recruitment centre in central Baghdad.
Soldiers patted down the arriving volunteers and checked their identity cards. They later piled into t
Kamel went to answer that call along with rucks to be taken to military bases for basic training.
"If I stayed home and others stayed home, who will go out to defend our honour?" said Kamel, 23, who has been married for less than two months.
His father-in-law, Hamed Kamel Hussein, a 45-year-old former soldier, also came to volunteer.
"I heard that volunteering is open to all ages, so I decided to come and participate in the war against ISIL," Hussein said.
The commander of the recruitment centre, Brigadier General Fadhel Abdulsahib, said thousands of people of all ages have joined up.
A number of retired officers have even been willing to join as the lowest enlisted rank, he added.