MOSUL: Jihadists overran Iraq’s second city of Mosul and a string of Sunni Arab northern towns yesterday in a spectacular blow against the Shia-led government that Washington warned threatens the entire region.
Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki asked parliament to declare a state of emergency and announced the government would arm citizens to fight the jihadists and their allies.
“All of Nineveh province fell into the hands of militants,” parliament speaker Osama Al Nujaifi told journalists in Baghdad, adding the gunmen were heading south towards neighbouring Salaheddin province.
An army brigadier general said hundreds of militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) launched a major assault on the security forces late on Monday.
An interior ministry official said Mosul, the scene of deadly clashes on Friday and Saturday, was “outside the control of the state and at the mercy of the militants”.
Soldiers and police had stripped off their uniforms and fled, and the militants used loudspeakers to declare they had “come to liberate” the city of some two million people.
A journalist, himself fleeing with his family, said shops were closed, a police station had been set ablaze and security forces vehicles had been burned or abandoned.
Hundreds of families were seen fleeing. Some were on foot, carrying what they could, others in vehicles with their belongings piled on the roofs. In the Kurdish north, thousands of Mosul residents had fled for the safety of the autonomous region.
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