Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is fighting to stay in power as U.S. airstrikes continue to target ISIS terrorists in northern Iraq. U.S. defense officials say ISIS is shifting tactics in the face of the air assault, moving into populated areas in an effort to blend in with civilians.

Here's more on the political situation from AP:

BAGHDAD –  Iraq's incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appeared more isolated Tuesday as he pressed his battle to remain in power while Iraqi politicians and the international community rallied behind a Shiite premier-designate who could be a more unifying figure, badly needed if the nation is to confront a spreading Sunni insurgency.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday urged the prime minister-designate, Haider al-Abadi, to work quickly to form an inclusive government and said the U.S. is prepared to offer it significant additional aid in the fight against Islamic State militants.

The power struggle in Baghdad comes as Iraq is battling militants from the Al Qaeda breakaway group in the north and the west. The onslaught by the Islamic State, which has captured large chunks of Iraqi territory since June, has become the country's worst crisis since the U.S. troop withdrawal in 2011.

On Monday, al-Abadi, the deputy speaker of parliament from al-Maliki's Shiite Dawa party, was selected by President Fouad Massoum to be the new prime minister and was given 30 days to present a new government to lawmakers for approval.

President Barack Obama called al-Abadi's nomination a "promising step forward" and urged "all Iraqi political leaders to work peacefully through the political process."

But al-Maliki, who has been in power for eight years, defiantly rejected the nomination, insisting it "runs against the constitutional procedures" and accusing the United States of siding with political forces "who have violated the constitution."

In Sydney, Kerry said Tuesday that the United States "stands ready to fully support a new and inclusive Iraqi government."

"Without any question, we are prepared to consider additional political, economic and security options," Kerry said.

On The Real Story this afternoon, we heard from Fox News military analyst Lt. Col. Oliver North (Ret.) and Fox News national security analyst K.T. McFarland.

North pointed to some news that he had just received from what he referred to as a well placed intelligence source, saying there are concerns that al-Maliki could be assassinated by one of his guards.

"Nouri al-Maliki's refusal to step down for his replacement ... has U.S. personnel in Baghdad on very high alert because Maliki's Shiite Praetorian Guard is protecting him. That source tells me that many of those who are guarding him were recruited by Ali al-Sistani, the senior Shiite cleric in Iraq. If Sistani says go and Maliki refuses, one of his protectors is likely to assassinate him and the U.S. government is going to get blamed and likely precipitate a full-scale sectarian civil war and attacks on Americans," North explained.

North emphasized he had not yet confirmed that information with a second source.

He expressed hope that Maliki will take the advice of the Iranians and Kerry and agree to step aside, noting that the "future is not bright" for holding Iraq together as a unified state.

Watch the full segment above.