Middle East

Iraqi official: ISIS had help seizing Mosul

A picture taken from a video released on Jan. 4, 2014, by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria's Al-Furqan Media allegedly shows ISIS fighters marching at an undisclosed location. AFP PHOTO / AL-FURQAN MEDIA

ERBIL, Iraq: The governor of Iraq's Nineveh Province held Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki responsible Wednesday for the seizing of the northern Iraqi city Mosul by the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria saying that the militant group is cooperating with Syrian regime.

Ethyl Najafi, speaking in a press conference, accused Iraqi military leaders of pulling out of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, and giving al-Maliki false reports just hours before militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria seized the city. The militant group is commonly known by the initials ISIS.

He demanded the trial of military leaders for letting the city be captured.

"Military commanders and the Iraqi army in Mosul vanished," he said.

"What happened in Nineveh is a collapse of the Maliki government," Najafi said. "The absence of security and military forces in Mosul made it easier for ISIS and all groups that reject al-Maliki's policy to overtake the city."

Najafi said ISIS didn't seize control of Mosul on its own and other groups participated. He added that he had reports that show cooperation between ISIS and the Syrian regime.

Najafi also said civilians in Mosul would form popular committees and not look to Baghdad for protection. He rejected any cooperation with the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria.

"We will hold no talks with the militant group ISIS; we will only kick them out of Mosul," he said.

"Tens of thousands of people fled from Mosul, and there are no accurate statistics for the numbers so far," the governor said. He called for the city's residents to "go back to their business."

Al-Maliki said Tuesday that the country had been placed on "maximum alert" and called on parliament to declare a national state of emergency.

Iraq has seen a marked increase in violence in recent months, which the government blames on the ISIS, accusing the group of having links with Al-Qaeda.

More than 15,000 Iraqi civilians have reportedly been killed in clashes between government forces and militant groups in the region since November, 2012, while according to the UN, nearly 9,000 people were killed in 2013 alone, making it the deadliest year for the country in the past five years.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria was established in the early years of the Iraq War, and it pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda in 2004. It is now operating in Syria, as well. In February 2014, Al-Qaeda cut off all ties to ISIS.

The ISIS headed south Wednesday and attacked parts of the city of Kirkuk.





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