Iraqi Insurgents ‘Seize New City’
Iraq is a mess. Afghanistan is a mess. Libya and Syria are a mess. Ukraine is a mess. Everywhere the US has intruded itself on foreign nations tends to create a mess, politically, socially and economically. So why do we keep intruding in the affairs of foreign Nations? – Shorty Dawkins, Associate Editor
Islamist insurgents in Iraq have seized the city of Tikrit, their second major gain after capturing Mosul on Tuesday, security officials say.
Tikrit, the hometown of former leader Saddam Hussein, lies 150km (95 miles) north of the capital Baghdad.
Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki vowed to fight back against the jihadists and punish those in the security forces who fled, offering little or no resistance.
The insurgents are from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).
ISIS, which is also known as ISIL, is an offshoot of al-Qaeda.
It controls considerable territory in eastern Syria and western and central Iraq, in a campaign to set up a Sunni militant enclave straddling the border.
There were also reports on Wednesday of fighting further south, in Samarra, 110km north of Baghdad.
Separately, at least 21 people were killed and 45 hurt by a suicide bomber at a Shia meeting in Baghdad, police said.
‘Do not give in’
As many as 500,000 people fled Mosul after the militants attacked the city. The head of the Turkish mission in Mosul and almost 50 consulate staff are being held by the militants, Turkish officials say.
Turkey’s foreign minister warned there would be “harsh retaliation” if any of its citizens were harmed.
The insurgents moved quickly south, entering the town of Baiji late on Tuesday.
There were heavy clashes reported in Tikrit, with dozens of insurgents attacking security forces near the headquarters of the Salaheddin provincial government in the city centre.
One eyewitness told the BBC that gunmen had entered the city from four different directions and a police station had been set on fire.
ISIS in Iraq
- The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has 3,000 to 5,000 fighters, and grew out of an al-Qaeda-linked organisation in Iraq
- ISIS has exploited the standoff between the Iraqi government and the minority Sunni Arab community, which complains that Shia PM Nouri Maliki is monopolising power
- It has already taken over Ramadi and Falluja, but taking over Mosul is a far greater feat than anything the movement has achieved so far, and will send shockwaves throughout the region
- The organisation is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – an obscure figure regarded as a battlefield commander and tactician. He was once the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, one of the groups that later became ISIS