A man looks at burnt vehicles belonging to Iraqi security forces one day after radical Sunni Muslim insurgents seized control of city of Mosul June 11, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer
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Al-Qaida-inspired militants seized effective control Wednesday of Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, expanding their offensive closer to the Iraqi capital as soldiers and security forces abandoned their posts following clashes with the insurgents.Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant took control a day earlier of much of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, in a major blow to the authority of the country's Shiite government. An estimated half a million residents fled the economically important city. Two Iraqi security officials confirmed Tikrit was under the control of the ISIL, and said the provincial governor was missing.Tikrit, the capital of Salahuddin province, is 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Baghdad.Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the fall of the major northern city to insurgents must push the country's leaders to work together and deal with the "serious, mortal threat" facing Iraq.Speaking from the northern Kurdish city of Irbil where he took refuge, he said smaller armed groups had joined the Islamic State during the fight for control of the city.
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