Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Violence Escalates in Iraq as Insurgents Overrun Second Key City

Islamist Militants Overrun Tikrit, Birthplace of Former Dictator Saddam Hussein

By Ali A. Nabhan in Baghdad and Matt Bradley in Cairo
WSJ, Updated June 11, 2014 11:49 a.m. ET

Islamist militants overran Tikrit and freed hundreds of prisoners from its jails on Wednesday, seizing the second Iraqi city in as many days and further destabilizing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government.

The capture of Tikrit, the birthplace of former dictator Saddam Hussein, came hours after Sunni insurgents stormed the Turkish consulate in the northern city of Mosul and took 49 staff hostage, Turkish officials said.

Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, fell Tuesday to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, an al Qaeda offshoot. It was the most significant territorial conquest for the radical group, which has also taken control of parts of Syria during the civil war.

The International Organization of Migration estimated that at least 500,000 people have fled Mosul and the surrounding province of Nineveh out of fear of escalating violence.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said his country faces a "mortal threat" from the ISIS insurgents. European Union and Arab League foreign ministers, who were meeting in Athens, voiced concern about deteriorating security in Iraq.

(More here.)

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