MANILA -- The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Saturday raised Crisis Alert Level 3 in Iraq amid the escalation of the security situation in Baghdad as militants continue to march towards the capital.

In a statement, the DFA said there is already a need to raise the crisis alert level in the entire country except the Iraqi Kurdistan region.

"In view of the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, the Department of Foreign Affairs has raised the crisis alert level for all areas in Iraq to Alert Level 3 (Voluntary Repatriation)," said the DFA.

"The Iraqi Kurdistan region is under Alert Level 1 (Precautionary Phase) as it remains relatively calm and stable," it added.

The decision comes after the militant jihadist group, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, captured a large part of northern and north-central Iraq in a lightning sweep that took it closer to Baghdad.

With the raising of the crisis alert level in Iraq, the DFA said Filipinos in Iraq are encouraged to avail of the voluntary repatriation program.

"They are enjoined to volunteer to return to the Philippines at government expense," it said.

The department is likewise sending a rapid response team to Iraq to assist in the voluntary repatriation of Filipinos currently in Iraq.

"The DFA continues to closely monitor the political and security developments in Iraq," the DFA added. (HDT/Sunnex)