Iraq Loses Control of 2nd City

State Dept. calls ISIS 'threat to entire region'

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 11, 2014 6:59 AM CDT | Updated Jun 11, 2014 10:23 AM CDT

(Newser) – Stability is deteriorating quickly in Iraq, where officials are confirming that Islamist militants have seized control of a second city, Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. Officials tell the AP that the provincial governor based in Tikrit is missing, while the New York Times notes that militants encountered precious little resistance and appear to be on their way to Baghdad. They've taken over the town of Baiji, an oil-refining center with 200,000 residents, and they've done so "without firing a shot," the Times notes. The militants hold a power station that supplies Baghdad and beyond, and residents in the capital fear the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) could come their way next.

And with Iraq having lost control of its second-largest city to the Islamist militants, some 500,000 Mosul residents have fled, a watchdog says. "The situation is chaotic inside the city, and there is nobody to help us," a government worker tells the BBC. An Iraqi provincial official has indicated that leaders are strategizing to retake Mosul, but troops are showing fatigue. "The state is weak," a deserting soldier tells the Times. "This will be an endless battle." The US says it will continue to provide "some security assistance" to Iraq, but the government must "step up to the plate" in a push against ISIS, the Guardian reports. The group, the State Department says, is "not only a threat to the stability of Iraq, but a threat to the entire region."

Kurdish security forces stand guard while refugees from Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region in Irbil, Iraq, 350 kilometers (217 miles) north of Baghdad, Tuesday, June 10, 2014. Islamic...   (AP Photo)
In this Monday, June 9, 2014, image taken from video obtained from the Iraqi military, Iraqi soldiers take their positions during clashes with militants in the northern city of Mosul, Iraq.   (AP Photo/Iraqi Military via AP video)
Refugees fleeing from Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region in Irbil, Iraq, Tuesday, June 10, 2014.   (AP Photo)
Refugees fleeing from Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region in Irbil, Tuesday, June 10, 2014.   (AP Photo)
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