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Iraq in crisis as ISIL advances on Baghdad

In depth
Issue 972 - 20 Jun 2014 | 8 minute read

The fall of Mosul to jihadists from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS) on 10 June has sent shockwaves through the region and beyond. As the Sunni insurgents advanced from their strongholds in Al-Anbar, the Iraqi army seemed to melt away, allowing ISIL to extend its gains in the north, the Kurds to step into the vacuum in their coveted Kirkuk, and militias to proliferate on both sides of the Sunni/Shiite divide. Within days, the US said it was contemplating air strikes, as Iraq lunged back into deep sectarian conflict. At the time of writing, militants from ISIL controlled a significant number of towns in Nineveh, Salahaddin and northern Diyala, including Saddam Hussein’s home town of Tikrit and Tal Afar, between Mosul and the border with Syria, where ISIL also controls a swathe of territory. Iraq’s biggest oil refinery at Bayji had been shut down and was under attack by militants, and there was fighting in Baquba, just 60km north of Baghdad

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