BAGHDAD, June 16 (Xinhua) -- Insurgent groups took control of part of the city of Tal Afar in Iraq's northern province of Nineveh, as families begun leaving their homes to safer areas outside the city, a security source and an official said on Monday.
Insurgent groups, including militants linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, an al-Qaida offshoot, have captured several neighborhoods in the city which located some 70 km west of Nineveh's provincial capital Mosul after fierce clashes with Iraqi security forces and volunteers from the residents, a local security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The militant groups have been fighting for several days to enter the ethnically and sectarian mixed city from three directions, but they were faced by the security forces with hundreds of local tribal fighters. The defenders of the city withdrew from some neighborhoods because of shortage of ammunition and weapons, the source said.
Mohammed Abdul Qader, head of the city council, told Xinhua that dozens of families have left their homes by the battles in the streets and the mortar shelling. Most of the displaced families have resorted to the city of Sinjar, some 60 km west of Tal Afar.
He said that the main hospital is suffering acute shortage in medicine and other equipments.
The Sunni-majority province of Nineveh and its capital Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, has long been a stronghold for insurgent groups, including al-Qaida militants, since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Large parts of the province are now in the hands of militant groups since last week after bloody clashes with Iraqi security forces. The militant groups later seized swathes of territories after the Iraqi security forces withdrew from their posts in Nineveh and other predominantly Sunni provinces.
WASHINGTON, June 15 (Xinhua) -- The United States said Sunday that it was boosting security for its embassy in Baghdad amid worsening situation in Iraq, as Islamic militants were sweeping across the northern part of the country.
"As a result of ongoing instability and violence in certain areas of Iraq, Embassy Baghdad is reviewing its staffing requirements in consultation with the State Department," department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said in a statement. Full story
CAIRO, June 15 (Xinhua) -- The Arab League (AL) on Sunday strongly slammed the attacks committed by Jihadist-led militants in Iraq, but rejected any attempts of interference in the domestic affairs of the conflict-stricken country.
"AL denounces terrorist attacks that are being perpetrated by the group called 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)' against the Iraqi people," an AL statement said following an extraordinary meeting of permanent representatives in Cairo. Full story
ANKARA, June 15 (Xinhua) -- NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen will visit Turkey on Monday for talks on dozens of Turkish nationals taken as hostages in Iraq, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"We urge the hostage takers to release the hostages immediately. Nothing can justify this criminal act," Rasmussen said at a conference in Madrid earlier on Thursday. "I don't see a role for NATO in Iraq, but of course we will follow the situation closely and urge all parties involved to stop the violence," he added. Full story