Residents and soldiers flee as militants seize Iraq’s second-largest city

The Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has announced a “general mobilization” after one of the country’s biggest cities fell to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Tuesday morning. Senior police officials said 2,725 prisoners were freed when the militants attacked a jail, and UNICEF condemned multiple child casualties as a result of an attack on a school. The insurgents are now in control of provincial government headquarters, the airport and other key facilities in the city.

When the battle got tough in the city of Mosul, the troops dropped their weapons and abandoned their posts, making it an easy prey for the terrorists.

Speaker of parliament Osama Nujaifi

Witnesses to the invasion say the gunmen announced over loudspeakers that they had “come to liberate Mosul and would fight only those who attack them”. The ISIL, which is composed of Sunni insurgents, have launched major operations in Nineveh, Anbar, Diyala, Salaheddin and Baghdad provinces since Thursday, killing scores of people and highlighting both their long reach and the weakness of Iraq’s security forces. In January, the government lost control of Fallujah, a short drive from Baghdad.