Residents from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul fled in the thousands on Tuesday toward the Kurdish city of Erbil as the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) gain control over more key points of the city.
With the continuing deterioration in security, the mayor of Ninveh province called on the Kurdish Peshmarga forces to help and protect those fleeing the violence in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. Kurdish security forces have been put on high alert in anticipation of any escalation in the security situation.
The prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan, Nechan Idris Barzani, blamed Iraqi authorities for failing to assess and deal with the security situation in Mosul, the capital of Ninveh province.
He added that Kurdish forces had tried to enter the city to help the residents but Iraqi authorities failed to cooperate.
Barzani also asked Kurdish residents and forces to assist those fleeing Kurdish areas.
According to Ekurd.net, Peshmarga forces managed to transfer 1,000 Kurdish families from Mosul to safety.
On Friday ISIS launched an offensive to seize control of Mosul. In a televised press conference, Iraqi Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi described the operation by the militants as “a total occupation of Ninveh Province.”
The move by the Islamist fighters Tuesday saw a retreat by Iraqi government forces from the Ghizlani military base in the northern city. ISIS also freed 200 prisoners from a high-security prison.
Al-Nujaifi described the situation as “a catastrophe by any measure.”
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, urged parliament that it declare a state of emergency and back a “general mobilization” of troops.
Mosul is the latest city to be targeted by the Al-Qaeda-link group. ISIS took over the city of Falluja earlier this year. Acquiring control of Mosul would be a strategic advantage for ISIS as the city is approximately 150 kilometers away from the Turkish and Syrian border.