Date
15 December 2017
This screen grab from a propaganda video by jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant  purports to show militants gathering at an undisclosed location in Iraq's Nineveh province. Photo: AFP
This screen grab from a propaganda video by jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant purports to show militants gathering at an undisclosed location in Iraq's Nineveh province. Photo: AFP

Iraq rebels moving toward Baghdad

Militants continued to dig into key government strongholds, overunning Tikrit and taking facilities in the oil refining town of Baiji as Iraqi forces crumbled.

The rebels moved south toward Baghdad after extending their control over parts of northern and western Iraq, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

On Tuesday, they seized Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, overwhelming government troops as they fled or surrendered.

By late Wednesday, the militants, many of them aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria were on the outskirts of Samara, 122 kilometers north of Baghdad, witnesses were quoted as saying.

Also, insurgents were holding 80 Turkish citizens seized in Mosul over the past two days, including the Turkish consul general, other diplomats and at least three children, the Turkish government said.

Thirty-one of the Turkish hostages were truck drivers who had been transporting fuel to a power plant in Mosul.

The hostage-taking raised the prospect of Turkey, a NATO ally that borders Syria and Iraq, becoming directly entangled in the crisis.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan held an emergency meeting with top security officials and Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu cut short a trip to New York and was returning to Ankara, the report said.

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CG/RA

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