Islamic militants take control of Mosul, one of Iraq’s largest cities, prompting the country’s prime minister to call for a state of emergency to be declared.
Following fierce overnight clashes between government forces and fighters from the al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), the militants were reported to have taken over large parts of the northern Iraqi city and the provincial government headquarters.
We have to declare a comprehensive mobilisation and the utmost alert in political, financial and popular capabilities to defeat terrorism and bring life to normal in all areas occupied by terrorist. Nouri al-Maliki
Iraqi forces were reported to have fled as the battle intensified, leaving behind weapons and armoured vehicles.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki asked parliament to declare a state of emergency. “I call upon the parliament to live up to its responsibility to declare a state of emergency and general mobilisation,” he said.
”We have to declare a comprehensive mobilisation and the utmost alert in political, financial and popular capabilities to defeat terrorism and bring life to normal in all areas occupied by terrorists, either in Mosul or any other city.”
Usama al-Nujaifi, speaker of the Iraqi parliament, said Isil militants had achieved “total occupation” of the northern Nineveh province.
“We are facing a very serious crisis,” he said, “a crisis that is represented by a foreign invasion of Iraq by terrorist groups from various different countries, occupying cities and killing innocent people and overthrowing the state in a blatant way.
What happened is a catastrophe by any measure. Usama al-Nujaifi
“What has happened over the past few days and today is a total occupation of Nineveh province.”
“When battles intensified inside the city of Mosul, the (Iraqi) forces abandoned their weapons and the commanders fled, leaving behind weapons, armoured vehicles – their positions were easy prey for terrorists, even Mosul airport.
“Planes and command positions – all of them have fallen in addition to weapons caches. Also prisons were stormed and criminals have been set free. What happened is a catastrophe by any measure.”
Mr al-Nujaifi said he had spoken with the US ambassador to ask for US support against this attack.
“They promised to discuss the issue urgently,” he said. “I also asked for urgent relief for the displaced by the international community.”
Mosul, in northern Iraq, is home to around 2 million people.