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News Link • Iraq

...Islamist militants attack Tikrit and near Baghdad after 500,000 are forced to flee Mosul


 Iraqi soldiers and police are reported to have discarded their uniforms, changed into civilian clothes and fled after firing only a few shots.

The offensive led by the fundamentalist Islamist group Isis appears to be turning into a general uprising by Iraq's Sunni Arab community that lost power when Iraq was invaded by the US and its allies in 2003. Militants from Isis have taken the refinery town of Baiji on the Tigris, which is also the site of a power station supplying Baghdad. Some 250 guards protecting the refinery withdrew after militant fighters asked local sheikhs by mobile phone to tell them to pull out or face a fight to the death.

In Mosul, Isis has been seeking to reassure the local population by knocking on doors to tell people they would not be harmed and asking government employees to return to work. Many of those who fled towards Kurdistan when the city fell have returned as the Kurds would not allow them to enter Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) territory.

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