Hundreds of thousands flee as second Iraqi city is seized by the extremist warlord who is more ‘virulent and violent than Bin Laden’
Via The Daily Mail
Iraq was under siege yesterday after Al Qaeda-inspired jihadists seized control of Saddam Hussein’s home town of Tikrit and closed in on the country’s biggest oil refinery.
Coming less than 24 hours after the country’s second city Mosul was overrun by the militants, there were fears that the loss of Tikrit could open the way for an assault on Baghdad just 80 miles to the south.
British security firms working in the capital are said to have been put on high alert amid fears that insurgents will target the ‘Green Zone’ where most of the foreign embassies are based.
As well as Mosul and Tikrit, several other northern towns were reported to have fallen to the spectacular offensive by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
And the fundamentalist fighters, led by former preacher Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, were today expected to take over the massive Baiji refinery after 250 security personnel abandoned their posts rather than fight.
ISIL was also battling security forces near the town of Samarra, 70 miles north of Baghdad on the main highway to Mosul, and home to a revered Shia shrine.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki asked parliament to declare a state of emergency to give him more powers as he called on the international community for help.
The sense of unravelling chaos in the country, from which American troops withdrew in 2011, was compounded this evening by a suicide bomber killing 16 in a Shi’te slum in the country’s capital Baghdad.
As night fell, several hundred gunmen were in Tikrit, with clashes still taking place between the insurgents and military units on its outskirts, according to city officials.
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