A Sunni rebel advance in Iraq has made further gains after over running first the city of Mosul and then Tikrit. It’s now closing in on the Baiji oil refinery which is the biggest in the country.
The speed of the offensive by the al Qaeda splinter group has shocked the Shi’ite-led Iraqi government in Baghdad.
There are reports the Iraqi military has managed to engage them however temporarily at the town of Samarra , north of the capital.
Iraq’s prime minister has described the fall of Mosul as a conspiracy and promised to punish soldier who had abandoned their posts.
Nuri al-Maliki has vowed to take back the lost territory calling on all Iraq’s leaders to unite against what he and his foreign minister described as a “mortal threat”.
The aim of the militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant ( ISIL) is to create a Sunni state straddling the border between Iraq and Syria.
Thousands of people stunned by what is happening have fled the area with little more than the clothes on their backs.
Despite tales of summary executions some said they had left because they were more afraid the government would respond with air strikes.