Sunni militants managed to take control of Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, on Tuesday, causing Iraqi soldiers to abandon their post.
In astonishingly quick fashion, the insurgents gained control of the city, taking over military bases, banks and other important buildings, reports The New York Times. They also released hundreds of prisoners being held in the city.
A soldier who only offered his first name, Haidar, said, “They took control of everything, and they are everywhere.”
A state of emergency was declared for the entire nation by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants continued to secure their hold on Mosul and the surrounding province.
According to BBC News, since the takeover began, it is believed that nearly 150,000 people have abandoned the city and are reportedly going to three Kurdistan towns for safety. Mosul has a population of nearly 1.8 million.
“The situation is chaotic inside the city and there is nobody to help us,” Umm Karam, a government employee said. “We are afraid.”
ISIS militants have reportedly controlled much of the northern Nineveh province for the past several months.
The speaker of parliament, Osama al-Nujaifi said, “The presence of these terrorist groups in this vast province… threatens not just the security and the unity of Iraq, but the whole Middle East.”