"...armed fighters believed to be part of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seized the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh and freed hundreds of prisoners.
..."The city of Mosul is outside the control of the state and at the mercy of the militants," an Interior Ministry official told news agency AFP, making it the second city to fall to anti-government forces this year.
Earlier this year, ISIL took control of another Iraqi city, Fallujah, in the west of the country, and government forces have been unable to take it back. The far larger Mosul is an even more strategic prize. The city and surrounding Ninevah are a major export route for Iraqi oil and a gateway to Syria.
...In recent days, rebels have launched major operations in Nineveh and four other provinces, killing scores of people and highlighting both their long reach and the weakness of Iraq’s security forces.
"Compounding the challenge, ISIS fighters seized large quantities of weaponry from the security forces when they overran their bases, including vehicles, arms and ammunition that will help the group to press further offensives. Much of the equipment was probably supplied by the United States, Iraq’s biggest provider of weapons."
"The Tigris River divides Mosul into mostly Kurdish and mostly Sunni Arab neighborhoods, and it is the Sunni areas that ISIS has seized. Mosul has long served as a significant source of funding for ISIS, which has routinely extorted businessmen on both sides of the city for contributions since well before the U.S. departure."