MOSUL, Iraq, June 10 (Xinhua) -- Insurgent groups took full control of Iraq's second largest city of Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province, after the Iraqi security forces withdrew from the city, provincial governor told the pan-Arab television on Tuesday.
"The gunmen took control of the left and right sides of Mosul except for small pockets," al-Arabiyah satellite channel quoted Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi as saying. The left and right sides of the city refer to east and west banks of the Tigris River which bisects the city of Mosul, some 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
Nujaifi said that the top army officers who came recently from Baghdad to supervise the battles suddenly withdrew with their troops from the left side which was under control of the security forces.
Earlier, a police source said that the armed groups gained more ground and quickly expanded the areas which earlier were under their control in western Mosul, the source added.
Since Friday morning, bloody clashes broke out between the Iraqi security forces and hundreds of gunmen who took control of several neighborhoods in western part of Mosul.
Nineveh is a Sunni-majority province and its capital Mosul has long been a stronghold for insurgent groups, including al-Qaida militants, since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.