A man looks at burnt vehicles belonging to Iraqi security forces one day after radical Sunni Muslim insurgents seized control of city of Mosul June 11, 2014. Sunni insurgents from an al Qaeda splinter group extended their control from the northern city of Mosul on Wednesday to an area further south that includes Iraq's biggest oil refinery in a devastating show of strength against the Shi'ite-led government. (Photo:Reuters)
The European Union and the League of Arab states and the EU on Wednesday urged democratic forces in Iraq to unite against Islamic jihadists who are mounting a surprise offensive against the Baghdad government.
"The EU and the LAS call upon all Iraqi democratic forces to work together...to overcome this challenge to the security of Iraq," a joint statement said after meetings between EU and Arab foreign ministers in Athens.
"In particular, the LAS and the EU call on the government of Iraq and the government of the Kurdistan region to combine their political and military forces in order to restore security to Mosul and Nineveh," the statement said.
In a spectacular blow to the Shiite-led government, the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and their allies on Tuesday seized Mosul and surrounding Nineveh province as well as a string of other northern towns.
Members of the jihadist group also seized the Turkish consulate in Mosul and kidnapped the head of the diplomatic mission along with 24 staff, police said.
The offensive sparked a massive exodus of civilians, with as many as half a million Iraqis fleeing their homes.