REUTERS – Sunni Islamist insurgents seized control of Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul early on Tuesday in a spectacular show of strength against the Shi’ite-led government, which called on parliament to declare a state of emergency.
The capture of Mosul by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – an offshoot of al Qaeda – and its allies followed four days of fighting in the northern city and attacks in other towns.
Residents said ISIL black flags and banners were flying on captured government buildings.
The fall of Mosul deals a serious blow to Baghdad’s efforts to fight Sunni militants who have regained ground and momentum in Iraq over the past year, pushing into Mosul last week and overrunning a military base and freeing hundreds of prisoners.
The army has been fighting ISIL in western Iraq since the start of the year when they overran two cities in the Sunni heartland of Anbar, which shares a border with Syria.