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Iraq's Tikrit falls to militants as offensive quickens

Published on Jun 12, 2014 1:10 AM

KIRKUK, Iraq (AFP) - Militants seized the Iraqi city of Tikrit on Wednesday but their assault on Samarra was repulsed as a lightning jihadist offensive launched in second city Mosul swept closer to Baghdad.

Since the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant began their 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 not only in Baghdad but in Western capitals.

It has also triggered a hostage crisis for Ankara, which is scrambling to secure the release of 48 Turks taken hostage by the jihadists.

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