UN warns of severe humanitarian crisis as militants seize two Iraqi cities

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the international community to unite behind Iraq as a lightening offensive by heavily armed jihadists swept closer to Baghdad.

By Ritesh K Srivastava | Updated: Jun 12, 2014, 08:56 AM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava

United Nations: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the international community to unite behind Iraq as a lightening offensive by heavily armed jihadists swept closer to Baghdad.

The Islamist militants have also seized another important Iraqi city of Tikrit on Wednesday after seizing country`s second largest city of Mosul. A fierce gunbattle is on between the jihadists and the security forces on the outskirts of Samarra.

"The secretary-general urges the international community to unite in showing solidarity with Iraq as it confronts this serious security challenge," his spokesman said in a statement late on Wednesday.

The UN chief demanded "full respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law in efforts to counter terrorism and violence in Iraq," spokesman Stephane Dujarric added.

Ban strongly condemned the surge in violence and warned that "terrorism must not be allowed to succeed in undoing the path toward democracy in Iraq."

Since the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant began its spectacular assault in Mosul late Monday, militants have captured a large swathe of northern and north-central Iraq, prompting as many as half a million people to flee their homes.

The speed with which ISIL and its allies have advanced after their seizure on Tuesday of Mosul -- a city of two million people -- has sent alarm bells ringing in Western capitals.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has also strongly deplored an upsurge of terrorist attacks in northern Iraq. It also condemned the recent terrorist attacks that are being perpetrated against the people of Iraq to destabilise the country and region, Xinhua reported.

"The members of the Security Council deplored in the strongest terms the recent events in the city of Mosul in Iraq where elements of the terrorist organization the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have attacked Iraqi security personnel and civilians, taken over significant parts of the city, including the Turkish Consulate and many government buildings, and displaced hundreds of thousands of people," the UNSC said in a statement.

Mosul, a city in northern Iraq, is the capital of the Nineveh province, some 400 km northwest of Baghdad. Islamic insurgents seized Iraq`s second largest city Tuesday following days of fighting against Iraqi government forces.

As many as 500,000 people have reportedly fled Mosul in the wake of the violence. On Wednesday, terrorists kidnapped the consul general of Turkey and several consulate staff working in the city.

With Agency inputs