Tags: Iraq | al Qaida

Terrorists Overrun Major Iraqi City

Tuesday, 10 Jun 2014 04:35 PM

BAGHDAD — In a stunning assault that exposed Iraq's eroding central authority, al-Qaida-inspired militants overran much of Mosul on Tuesday, seizing government buildings, pushing out security forces and capturing military vehicles as thousands of residents fled the country's second-largest city.

The rampage by the black banner-waving terrorists was a heavy defeat for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as he tries to hold onto power, and it highlighted the growing strength of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The group has been advancing in both Iraq and neighboring Syria, capturing territory in a campaign to set up a militant enclave straddling the border.

There were no immediate estimates on how many people were killed in the assault, a stark reminder of the reversals in Iraq since U.S. forces left in late 2011.

Earlier this year, the Islamic fighters took control of Fallujah, and government forces have been unable to take it back.

Mosul is a much bigger, more strategic prize. The city and surrounding Ninevah province, which is on the doorstep of Iraq's relatively prosperous Kurdish region, are a major export route for Iraqi oil and a gateway to Syria.

"This isn't Fallujah. This isn't a place you can just cordon off and forget about," said Michael Knights, a regional security analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "It's essential to Iraq."

Al-Maliki pressed parliament to declare a state of emergency that would grant him greater powers, saying the public and government must unite "to confront this vicious attack, which will spare no Iraqi." Legal experts said these powers could include imposing curfews, restricting public movements and censoring the media.

State TV said lawmakers would convene Thursday. Parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni from Mosul, called the rout "a disaster by any standard."

Regaining Mosul poses a daunting challenge for the Shiite prime minister. The city of about 1.4 milliion has a Sunni Muslim majority and many in the community are already deeply embittered against his Shiite-led government. During the nearly nine-year American presence in the country, Mosul was a major stronghold for al-Qaida. U.S. and Iraqi forces carried out repeated offensives there, regaining a semblance of control but never routing the insurgents entirely.

"It's going to be difficult to reconstitute the forces to clear and hold the city," Knights said. "There aren't a lot of spare forces around Iraq."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest deplored what he called the "despicable" acts of violence against civilians in Mosul. He said Washington is committed to its partnership with Baghdad but is urging the Iraqi government to take steps to be more inclusive of all Iraqis.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attacks across Iraq in recent days "that have killed and wounded scores of civilians." He urged 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," according to UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Insurgents and Iraqi troops have been fighting for days in Mosul, but the security forces' hold appeared to collapse late Monday night and early Tuesday.

Gunmen overran the Ninevah provincial government building — a key symbol of state control — Monday evening, and the governor fled the city. The fighters stormed police stations, bases and prisons, capturing weapons and freeing inmates. Security forces melted away, abandoning many of their posts, and militants seized large caches of weapons.

They took control of the city's airport and captured helicopters, as well as an airbase 40 miles south of the city, the parliament speaker said.

Later Tuesday, the Islamic militants took over the large town of Hawija, 75 miles south of Mosul, according to officials there.

On Tuesday, the militants appeared to hold much of the eastern half of Mosul, which is bisected by the Tigris River. Residents said fighters were raising the black banners that are the emblem of the Islamic State.

An estimated 500,000 people have fled Mosul, according to a U.N. spokesman in New York, citing the International Organization for Migration. The spokesman said aid organizations hope to reach those in need with food, water, sanitation and other essential supplies as soon as the volatile security situation permits.

The Islamic fighters have ramped up their insurgency over the past two years, presenting themselves as the Sunni community's champion against al-Maliki's government

The group was once al-Qaida's branch in Iraq, but under its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi it has escalated its ambitions, sending fighters into Syria to join the rebellion against President Bashar Assad. Its jihadists became notorious as some of the most ruthless fighters in the rebellion, and other rebels turned against it, accusing it of trying to hijack the movement. Al-Qaida's central command, angered over its intervention in Syria, threw the group out of the terrorist network.

 

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
1Like our page
2Share
MiddleEast
BAGHDAD — In a stunning assault that exposed Iraq's eroding central authority, al-Qaida-inspired militants overran much of Mosul on Tuesday, seizing government buildings, pushing out security forces and capturing military vehicles as thousands of residents fled the country's second-largest city.
Iraq, al Qaida
798
2014-35-10
Tuesday, 10 Jun 2014 04:35 PM
Newsmax Inc.
 
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved