News / Middle East

Iraqi Militants Seize Mosul in Quest for Islamic State

A Kurdish policeman stands guard while refugees fleeing Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region in Irbil, Iraq, June 10, 2014.
A Kurdish policeman stands guard while refugees fleeing Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region in Irbil, Iraq, June 10, 2014.
Amanda Scott
Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant overran Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, Tuesday as part of their push to create a region ruled by Islamic law in parts of Iraq and Syria.  Analysts say this attack, which follows similar gains in Ramadi and Fallujah, is part of a wider objective of showing the Iraqi government's weaknesses as a way to garner support for their campaign.  

 Witnesses say hundreds of fighters in military dress arrived in Mosul's southern section and made their way to the west before capturing the heart of the city while taking control of military bases, government facilities and television stations.

Amir Goran, a Mosul-based reporter for VOA's Kurdish service, says in the beginning, everyone was expecting a strong response from Iraqi government forces backed by their helicopter gunships.  He says no one expected the ISIL militants to take control of the entire city.

A doctor based in Mosul described his sense of shock in realizing that the city been left defenseless.

"There is no fighting. They run away.  Everybody, the army, they run away.  It is unbelievable.  All the the army on the left side of the city, leave the city without any fighting," he said.

Ken Pollack, a Middle East expert with the Brookings Institution, says the lack of response by Iraqi forces is the result of the politicization of the Iraqi military and a reduction in the training of its forces.

"What we saw from the Iraqi security forces in Mosul is indicative of a larger pattern that we've seen with the Iraqi military since the departure of American forces since 2011," said Pollack. "The Iraqis were never terrific to begin with, but they achieved a certain level of competency under the Americans."

Pollack says other factors, including the replacement of key generals, has led to a wide-scale breakdown in morale, which is evident in the army's fighting against ISIL militants in Fallujah, Anbar province and Mosul.

He says the ISIL has thrived during that breakdown, also tapping into the disillusionment of many of Iraq's minority Sunni Arabs who feel they are being marginalized and have no alternative but to fight the Shia-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

"What we have seen is that ISIL has grown enormously in strength over the past two or three years as a result of the disillusionment of the Arab Sunni community with the Shia-dominated government of Nouri al-Maliki.  There is an increasing sense among Sunnis that Nouri al-Maliki is nothing but a Shia chauvinist who seeks to oppress them exactly as they oppressed the Shia under Saddam Hussein's regime," he said.

The takeover of Mosul is the latest step in the ISIL's campaign to create an Islamist state in western Iraq and eastern Syria.  In broadcasts to the city's  residents, the militants said they want to preserve the safety of civilians and promised not to inflict damage to their properties or government buildings.

You May Like

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: meanbill from: USA
June 11, 2014 1:05 AM
MY OPINION? -- The Saudi's are the ones who are planning to revive the Caliphate, with the despotic King of Saudi Arabia? -- (CRAZY AS IT SEEMS?) -- The US is helping to overthrow any non-Sunni countries for Saudi Arabia, and the Sunni Monarchies, and arming and supplying them... (LOOK at a map, and who did the US President bow too?)..

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle reports from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs