BAGHDAD — In the face of an armed rebellion by disgruntled Sunni Muslims against his Shi’ite-led government, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Thursday urged dialogue to calm tensions but vowed to continue military operations in a growing sectarian conflict that he warned could lead to a civil war like the one raging in Syria.
‘‘Security forces must impose security in Iraq, which is affected by a region teeming with sectarianism,’’ Maliki said in a speech on Thursday afternoon. ‘‘And now we are starting to see those problems come to us.’’
Maliki’s remarks came as his security forces continued to battle armed Sunni tribesmen, some linked to an insurgent group led by former officials of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party, in a fight that began Tuesday morning when security forces raided a Sunni protest camp in the northern village of Hawijah, near Kirkuk, that left at least 50 civilians dead and more than 100 wounded.
That led to a series of revenge attacks against security forces, and the fighting intensified Wednesday in the town of Sulaiman Bek.