Fighters led by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have moved southeast seizing the towns of Saadiyah and Jalawla in Diyala province, close to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. Anticipating the approach of militants, Iraq’s interior ministry spokesman said it is intensifying the deployment of forces and increasing intelligence efforts in Baghdad.

U.S. President Barack Obama said he was considering “all options” to make sure “these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria.” The president has not ruled out airstrikes, though White House spokesman Jay Carney said the United States is not considering ground troops. According to Iranian security officials, Iran deployed two Revolutionary Guards units Wednesday to protect Baghdad, Karbala, and Najaf. On Thursday, the Iraqi government launched airstrikes in and around Mosul and said it sent elite military units to “cleanse” the city of Islamist extremists. Additionally, thousands of Shiite “volunteers” reportedly are mobilizing to protect Baghdad and other Shiite regions. The United Nations refugee agency said there have been 800,000 people displaced by fighting in Iraq since the beginning of the year, with 300,000 just this week.

While the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is making gains in Iraq, its branch in Syria appears to be holding back on fighting, particularly in territory held in the east near the Iraqi border, while fighters bring back weapons seized in Iraq. The head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdulrahman, said ISIS may have negotiated a cease-fire with rebel brigades in Syria, though clashes continued in parts of Deir al-Zour and Aleppo.