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State of emergency: ISIS militants overrun Iraq city of 1.8mn, free 2,500 prisoners

Published time: June 10, 2014 09:29
Edited time: June 18, 2014 08:07

Iraqi soldiers gather as their unit is shipped north from the central Shiite Muslim shrine city of Najaf to Mosul following the increased violence, on June 8, 2014.(AFP Photo / Haidar Hamdani)

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Heavily-armed militants formerly affiliated with Al-Qaeda have seized the Iraqi city of Mosul, driving back government forces. Officials say the Iraqi Army’s soldiers are demoralized and are no match for the attacking militant forces.

“The city of Mosul is outside the control of the state and at the mercy of the militants,” an Interior Ministry official told AFP on Monday. It is now the second city to fall under control of Islamist fighters since the beginning of this year. In January militants seized the city of Fallujah, displacing over 70,000 people.

On Monday night, fighters from Al-Qaeda splinter group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) stormed provincial government headquarters armed with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns.

The city’s governor, Atheel Nujaifi, was caught inside the building at the time of the attack, but managed to escape, while local police battled to fend off the militants. Earlier that day Nujaifi appealed to the inhabitants of Mosul, largely a Sunni Arab city, to fight the invaders.

"I call on the men of Mosul to stand firm in their areas and defend them against the outsiders, and to form popular committees through the provincial council,"
said Nujaifi in a statement.

Iraqi military, police, and security officials told Reuters that armed militants with anti-aircraft weaponry and rocket-propelled grenades had captured nearly all police and military checkpoints in and around Mosul by early Tuesday.

Unnamed officials told Reuters that government fighters were demoralized and seriously outmatched by the militant forces.

"We have lost Mosul this morning," said a colonel at a local military command base, according to Reuters. "Army and police forces left their positions and ISIL terrorists are in full control."

"It's a total collapse of the security forces."

Eyewitness accounts describe the scenes of chaos on the streets of Iraq’s second-largest city as thousands of people fled for their lives. A number of reports say that militants are freeing detainees from police stations, while AL RAI Chief International Correspondent Elijah J Magnier tweeted that the ISIS had freed over 2,000 inmates from a “counter terrorism prison.”

“The situation is chaotic inside the city and there is nobody to help us,” a Christian mother of two told AP. “We are afraid ... There is no police or army in Mosul.”

"Mosul now is like hell. It's in flames and death is everywhere," said Amina Ibrahim, who was fleeing the city with her children.

In response to the escalation, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has called on parliament to declare a state of emergency.

Calling on citizens to take up arms “to defend the homeland and defeat terrorism,” al-Maliki said in a statement broadcast on state TV that the cabinet has “created a special crisis cell to follow up on the process of volunteering and equipping and arming.”

Hours after the televised statement, ISIS jihadists seized several more areas in Iraq’s Kirkuk province, according to AFP. Militants overran the Hawijah, Zab, Riyadh, and Abbasi areas west of the city of Kirkuk, and Rashad and Yankaja to its south, a police officer told the agency.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is “gravely concerned” about the situation in Mosul, according to Ban’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.

“The Secretary-General urges all political leaders to show national unity against the threats facing Iraq, which can only be addressed on the basis of the Constitution and within the democratic political process,”
Dujarric said, adding that the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq “stands ready to support these efforts.”

The US State Department has also issued a statement saying it is deeply concerned about the “extremely serious” situation in northern Iraq.

US officials “support a strong, coordinated response to push back against this aggression,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement, adding that Washington will “provide all appropriate assistance to the Government of Iraq under the Strategic Framework Agreement to help ensure that these efforts succeed.”

According to Psaki, the US government realizes that the radical Islamist group “continues to gain strength from the situation in Syria, from which it transfers recruits, sophisticated munitions, and resources to the fight in Iraq.” Calling ISIS “a threat to the entire region,” the spokeswoman called on different Iraqi communities “to work together to confront this common enemy and isolate these militant groups from the broader population.”

The US is in the process of providing Iraq more weaponry, including Hellfire missiles and surveillance drones. Last week, Iraq received the first of 36 F-16 fighter jets it has ordered from weapons maker Lockheed Martin.

Iraq's Prime Minister has been struggling to control the recent outbreak of sectarian violence in the country. Al-Maliki is a Shiite Muslim and has become unpopular with Iraq Sunni minority, which has accused the government of discrimination. Nechirvan Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdistan regional government of Iraqi Kurdistan, laid the blame for the siege at the feet of the Iraqi central government in a statement on Tuesday. He claimed they had been warned that ISIS forces were converging on Mosul, but failed to take any action.

Comments (94)

 

Eder Conserve 14.06.2014 13:03

I just learn from a good source from Iraq.. U.S are sending all type of weapons to the Iraqi government. Now the Iraqi government are lining civilians to take up arms to fight.but the big ??? Is. They are not fighting . They are selling those weapons to the al Qaeda extremist ...: Obama is making a bad choice if those weapons are reach out to the Iraqi government...: best thing is to do right now is. Divide this Iraq into three part Sunni, Shiite and Kurd . America cannot solve this problems. Take my advice Pres. Obama ,take my advice. Thank U. Eder C

 

JJ 12.06.2014 05:54

More like private contractors from US that is fighting and creating chaos in that area..........

 

Dan Worth 11.06.2014 21:44

American taxpayers payed for all of those fighters, and 20 mm and 50 cal mounted Toyotas to kill Syrians.

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