Al-Qaeda linked militants seized control of the northern city of Mosul, Iraq on Tuesday morning. The insurgents, who are believed to be from the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), have destroyed several police stations and seized government buildings in the country’s second largest city.
According to Iraq’s parliamentary speaker, Osama Nujaifi, Iraqi forces have “abandoned their weapons” and the terrorist militants are now in control of Mosul. While Nujaifi called for military reinforcements, the insurgents appear to have already captured important infrastructure. ISIS controls the city’s airport and jails, reportedly freeing around 1,400 prisoners. The terrorists also gained control of former U.S. military hardware, with local media reporting that the group stole two American made humvees and other weaponry and have already transferred them into Syria.
File photo showing ISIS terrorists. (Photo: AFP)
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal el-Maliki asked the Iraqi Parliament to declare a state of emergency throughout Iraq, reflecting the security threats his government is facing. Over the past week, the cities of Samarra and Ramadi have also experienced deadly coordinated attacks from insurgents. ISIS also still controls much of Fallujah even though the Shiite led government in Baghdad launched a campaign several months ago to take back the city.
While Iraqi officials believe hundreds of ISIS jihadists were involved in the fighting in Mosul, the government estimates that more than 6,000 sunni extremists are operating between Syria and Iraq’s extremely porous border. The group gained momentum at the end of 2012 on the battlefields of northern Syria and has stepped up its bombing campaigns to obstruct the Shiite power base.