“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.” It’s a good thing that, as Barack Obama assures us, al Qaeda is on the ropes. Imagine what they’d be doing if they were a strong and vibrant force. “Islamic Militants Take Control Of Iraq’s Mosul,” RFE/RL, June 10, 2014:
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is asking parliament to declare a state of emergency after Al-Qaeda-linked militants seized control of one of the largest cities in the country.
State TV said parliament will convene on June 12 to discuss the request.
Fighters believed to be affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seized key buildings in the northern city of Mosul late on June 9.
Officials said dozens of heavily armed insurgents seized the provincial capital’s headquarters, occupied police stations, overran the airport, and freed prisoners from jails.
The governor of the northern province of Nineveh, Athil al-Nujaifi, said the military and police forces abandoned their positions.
Residents were quoted as saying that black flags associated with jihadist groups were flying from buildings and that the militants had announced over loudspeakers that they had come to “liberate” the city of nearly 2 million people.
Earlier on June 9, Governor Nujaifi made a televised plea to the city’s inhabitants to fight the Al-Qaeda-linked militants who have been regaining ground in Iraq.
Nujaifi escaped Mosul unharmed before the provincial government’s headquarters fell.
His brother, parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, called on the Iraqi government and the regional government of Kurdistan to send reinforcements to Mosul. He also said he had asked the U.S. ambassador for help.
“When battles intensified inside the city of Mosul, the [Iraqi] forces abandoned their weapons and the commanders fled, leaving behind weapons and armored vehicles — their positions were easy prey for terrorists, even the Mosul airport,” parliament speaker Nujaifi said in Baghdad.
“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.”
Tens Of Thousands Flee Fighting
The president of the semiautonomous northern Kurdistan region, Masud Barzani, called on international organizations to provide humanitarian assistance.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the UN chief is “gravely concerned” by the serious deterioration of the security situation in Mosul.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki also voiced concern over what she called the “extremely serious situation” in Mosul.
RFE/RL correspondents in Iraq report that the fighting has forced thousands of people to flee their homes to other parts of the province and beyond.