Jihadists firmly in control of Iraq's Mosul
11 June 2014, 15:03
Bashiqa - Jihadists were firmly in control of Iraq's Mosul on Wednesday, patrolling the streets and calling for employees to return to work a day after seizing the northern city, witnesses said.
Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant overran Mosul and a string of Sunni Arab northern towns on Tuesday, in a major blow to the Iraqi government that the United States warned threatens the entire region.
Gunmen, some in military uniforms and others wearing black, stood guard at government buildings and banks, said witnesses reached by telephone from Bashiqa, a town east of Mosul.
They called over loudspeakers for government employees to go back to work.
Hassan al-Juburi, aged 45, said the militants had set the punishment at 80 lashes for residents who use the abbreviation "Isil".
"I did not open the door of the shop since last Thursday because of the security conditions," said Abu Ahmed, a 30-year-old shop-owner.
Witnesses reported that dozens of families continued to flee the city, but Ahmed said: "I will remain in Mosul. This is my city in any case, and the city is calm now".
Bassam Mohammed, a 25-year-old university student, also said he would stay in Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city which normally has a population of around two million people.
"But I am afraid about freedoms, and I am especially afraid that they will impose new laws on us," Mohammed said.
Jihadists on Tuesday 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.
Isil said it was behind operations in Nineveh in a series of messages on Twitter, while officials have also blamed the jihadist Sunni group for the unrest.
But it is possible that other militant groups have been involved as well.
Bloodshed is running at its highest levels in Iraq since 2006-2007, when tens of thousands were killed in clashes between the country's Shi’ite majority and Sunni Arab minority.