Iraq: half a million flee Mosul; ISIS advance south

An estimated half a million have fled Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, since it was seized by forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) June 10. The Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM) said the takeover of Mosul, capital of Nineveh governorate, has "displaced over 500,000 people in and around the city." Most are taking refuge in the neighboring Kurdish autonomous zone. Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International's Middle East deputy program director, urged: "The Kurdistan Regional Government and neighboring countries must provide civilians fleeing the conflict with refuge. The international community must also provide support towards the humanitarian needs of people displaced as a result of the violence.” (Al Jazeera, AI, June 11) Following the fall of Mosul, ISIS militants have been advancing south, towards Baghdad. On June 11 they seized Tikrit, capital of Salaheddin governorate, just 150 kilometers from Baghdad. The Salaheddin cities of Tuz Khourmatu and Baiji are likewise reported to have fallen. Prime Minister Nouri Maliki vowed to resist the offensive and punish those in the security forces who fled after offering little or no resistance. (UN News Centre, AFP, BBC News, June 11)