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Iraqi Insurgents Capture Northern Cities, Move Toward Baghdad

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Clashes between Iraqi Security forces and hundreds of Sunni militants aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, an offshoot of al Qaeda) resulted in the capture of Mosul and Tikrit by ISIL earlier today. Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, was overrun -- Iraqi forces reportedly abandoning their posts, shedding their uniforms and dropping their weapons as they fled the ISIL attacks. Tikrit, about 135 miles closer to Baghdad, was attacked not long after, with little resistance -- and the AFP is reporting fighting now outside Samarra, only 70 miles north of the capital city. The attackers overran a military base, freed hundreds of prisoners, and have seized the Turkish consulate in Mosul, capturing and holding 50 Turkish citizens. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has promised to put a halt to the advances, and called on citizens to take up arms as well. [19 photos]

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A picture taken with a mobile phone shows an armored vehicle belonging to Iraqi security forces in flames on June 10, 2014, after hundreds of militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) launched a major assault on the security forces in Mosul, 370 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. Some 500,000 Iraqis have fled their homes in Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul after Jihadist militants took control, fearing increased violence, the International Organization for Migration said. (AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken with a mobile phone shows an armored vehicle belonging to Iraqi security forces in flames on June 10, 2014, after hundreds of militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) launched a major assault on the security forces in Mosul, 370 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. Some 500,000 Iraqis have fled their homes in Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul after Jihadist militants took control, fearing increased violence, the International Organization for Migration said. (AFP/Getty Images)
In this Monday, June 9, 2014 image taken from video obtained from the Iraqi Military, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, military soldiers prepare to take their positions during clashes with militants in the northern city of Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo/Iraqi Military via AP video) #
An Iraqi army vehicle fires towards militants during clashes in in the northern city of Mosul, Iraq, on June 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Iraqi Military via AP video) #
A picture taken with a mobile phone shows an armed man watching as a vehicle, reportedly belonging to Iraqi security forces, is seen in flames on June 10, 2014 in Mosul, Iraq. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) #
A picture taken with a mobile phone shows uniforms reportedly belonging to Iraqi security forces scattered on the road on June 10, 2014, after hundreds of ISIL militants launched a major assault on the security forces in Mosul. (AFP/Getty Images) #
A picture taken with a mobile phone shows Iraqi soldiers talking as smoke billows behind them on a road in Hawijah, west of Kirkuk, in northern Iraq on June 11, 2014. Jihadists seized all of Mosul and Nineveh province, long a militant stronghold and one of the most dangerous areas in the country, and also took areas in Kirkuk province, to its east, and Salaheddin to the south. (AFP/Getty Images) #
Burning vehicles belonging to Iraqi security forces, during clashes between Iraqi security forces and ISIL militants in Mosul on June 10, 2014. (Reuters/Stringer) #
A burned vehicle, during clashes between Iraqi security forces and ISIL militants in Mosul on June 10, 2014. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Families fleeing the violence in Mosul wait at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Arbil, in Iraq's Kurdistan region, on June 10, 2014. (Reuters/Azad Lashkari) #
Refugees fleeing from Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region in Irbil, Iraq, on June 10, 2014. (AP Photo) #
Iraqis fleeing the violence in Nineveh province wait in their vehicles at a Kurdish checkpoint in Aski Kalak, 40 km west of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on June 10, 2014. (Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Iraqi Kurdish security guard frisks a man as families fleeing violence in Iraq's northern Nineveh province wait at a Kurdish checkpoint in Aski Kalak on June 10, 2014. (Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images) #
Damaged vehicles belonging to Iraqi security forces, during clashes between Iraqi security forces and ISIL militants in the northern Iraq city of Mosul on June 10, 2014. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Children stand next to burned vehicles during clashes between Iraqi security forces and ISIL militants in Mosul on June 10, 2014. (Reuters/Stringer) #
A burned vehicle belonging to the Iraqi security forces, abandoned on a road one day after radical Sunni Muslim insurgents seized control of the city of Mosul on June 11, 2014. (Reuters/Stringer) #
The body of a member of the Iraqi security forces lies on a street after radical Sunni Muslim insurgents seized control of Mosul on June 11, 2014. (Reuters/Stringer) #
A burned vehicle belonging to Iraqi security forces, one day after radical Sunni Muslim insurgents seized control of Mosul on June 10, 2014. (Reuters/Stringer) #
A man displays an Iraqi army jacket near burned vehicles belonging to Iraqi security forces at a checkpoint in east Mosul, after ISIL militants seized control of the city, on June 11, 2014. (Reuters/Stringer) #
A vehicle belonging to the Iraqi security forces, abandoned at a checkpoint in east Mosul, one day after ISIL militants seized control of the city, on June 11, 2014. (Reuters/Stringer) #

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