Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has called upon the Iraq parliament to convene an emergency session and adopt martial law, according to CBS News. The news comes shortly after the Al Qaeda-aligned group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) reportedly captured Iraq’s second largest city in Mosul.
Maliki called for martial law in a televised address to the nation Tuesday. He said that “Iraq is undergoing a difficult stage” and ISIS has taken “vital areas in Mosul.” He said the government must “confront this vicious attack, which will spare no Iraqi.”
Iraq’s constitution allows for parliament to declare a 30-day state of emergency by two-thirds vote, which if passed hands all power and decision-making authority over to the Prime Minister.
The ISIS assault occurred overnight Monday, as the radical Islamist faction took to the streets with RPGs, snipers, and automatic rifles. They reportedly took over the provincial governing apparatus, along with police and military barracks’. ISIS also broke out 1,000 jailed inmates from Mosul’s main prison.
Residents said they saw men running around the streets in yellow jumpsuits. They also seized control of Mosul’s broadcasting networks as well as their central airport, where they took multiple helicopters.
A speaker in Parliament said of the raid, “What happened is a disaster by any standard. The presence of these terrorist groups in this vast province threatens not just the security and the unity of Iraq, but the whole Middle East.”
Guards stationed in the area, fearful for their lives, quickly abandoned their posts, creating a free lane for the Islamist insurgents to march into Mosul. A government employee told CBS News that she decided to get her family together and evacuate the city immediately, after hearing word of ISIS’s infiltration. “The situation is chaotic inside the city and there is nobody to help us. We are afraid. There is no policy or army in Mosul,” she said.
Earlier this week, the Governor of Mosul said to his city’s populace, “I call upon the men of Mosul to stand firm in their areas and defend them against the strangers and to form public committees in their districts to help their people and to protect their areas.”
Earlier this year, ISIS took over another city, Fallujah, after Iraqi forces failed to subdue them.
Mosul is located in the Nineveh province of northern Iraq and is home to an estimated 1.8 million people. Mosul provided the venue for an operations base for the US Army’s 101st Airborne division during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The city is within close proximity to Kurdish regions in Iraq.