Rebels surge towards Baghdad

Kurdish forces take control of oil town Kirkuk

Rebels surge towards Baghdad

 Iraqi Kurdish forces took control of the northern oil city of Kirkuk on Thursday, after government troops abandoned their posts in the face of a triumphant Sunni Islamist rebel march towards Baghdad that threatens Iraq’s future as a unified state.

State television showed what it said was aerial footage of Iraqi aircraft firing missiles at insurgent targets in Mosul. The targets could be seen exploding in black clouds.Further south, the fighters extended their lightning advance to towns only about an hour’s drive from the capital Baghdad, where Shia militia are mobilising for a potential replay of the ethnic and sectarian bloodbath of 2006-2007.

Trucks carrying Shia volunteers in uniform rumbled towards the front lines to defend the capital. The stunning advance of ISIL, which aims to build a Caliphate ruled on mediaeval Sunni Islamic principles across Syria and Iraq, is the biggest threat to Iraq since US troops withdrew in 2011. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes in fear as the militants seized the main cities of the Tigris valley north of Baghdad in a matter of days.

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