U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry downplayed al-Maliki's rejection of a salvation government, saying it wasn't something the United States had talked to him about specifically.

To the contrary, he said al-Maliki, is committed to the electoral process and creation of a new government that the United States has supported.

"And he committed to moving forward with the constitutional processes of government formation, and that is precisely what the United States was encouraging," Kerry said. "He also called on all Iraqis to put aside their differences, to unite in their efforts against terrorism."

Meanwhile, a U.S. official told CNN that Iran is flying surveillance drones over Iraq. It's not known from where they are being launched.

Iran is believed to be providing small arms and ammunition to Iraq, as well as providing intelligence to al-Maliki's government, the official said.

Is Baghdad ready for an ISIS attack?

Meanwhile, on the outskirts of Baghdad, the eerie emptiness of a major highway raises questions about whether the capital would be prepared for a militant invasion.

The Iraqi military insists it's ready to beat back ISIS if the fighters reach Baghdad.

A post-battle video purportedly shows army forces celebrating a victory over ISIS just west of Baghdad. The bodies of two militants are draped over the hood of a Humvee.

"Look at those ISIS! We killed them!" one man says in the video.

But the opponents are formidable. ISIS fighters have captured cities and towns across Iraq in its effort to create an Islamic state.

And the highway from Baghdad to Abu Ghraib in Anbar province showed few signs of readiness for ISIS.

No tanks or big guns could be seen, CNN's Nic Robertson said. What used to be a thriving roadside marketplace now looks like a deserted wasteland.

It's unclear what lies farther down the highway, but images on the Internet suggest a dire situation. Photos posted by ISIS show two soldiers sitting cross-legged on the ground, guns pointed at their heads.

At least six civilians were killed and 21 wounded Wednesday when an Iraqi military helicopter fired two rockets on a mosque and nearby house in central Ana, in Anbar province, according to police and health officials.

Most of the injured were children, who were attending a course on the Quran inside the targeted mosque, the officials said.

At least 12 people were killed and 46 others were wounded when a suicide bomber exploded in a popular coffee shop in Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad, followed by several mortar rounds attacked several locations nearby.

At least four people were killed and 11 others were wounded when a car bomb exploded in an outdoor market in Rahimawa in northern Kirkuk, police officials in Kirkuk told CNN.

Who has what?

Maj. Gen Atta said security forces had regained control of two key border crossings after briefly losing them to the militants.

Atta said Iraqi forces, aided by Sunni tribes, retook al-Walid, which connects Iraq with Syria. He also said Iraqi forces regained the Trebil border crossing between Iraq and Jordan.

He also said that all towns between Samarra and Baghdad, 80 miles (129 kilometers) to the south, are in the hands of Iraqi security forces.

But large swaths of Iraq, particularly in the north and west, have fallen from government control to the hands of ISIS.

U.S. officials say they think ISIS now has as many as 10,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria. But is unknown, officials say, exactly how many are in Iraq because it's not clear how many go back and forth across the Syrian border and how many loyalists have joined ISIS as it has taken over various towns.

The spread of ISIS