A weekend of bloody fighting in Mosul is going worse than anyone thought for government forces, and the district that is the provincial capital of the Nineveh Province has now fallen to al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).
AQI fighters by the hundreds poured into the capital district, briefly trapping Governor Atheel Nujaifi before he was rescued by police and ferried out of the area.
Gov. Nujaifi seems short on ideas at this point, and issued a televised plea for the civilians of Mosul to take up arms and defend their neighborhoods from the outsiders.
Top security officials were even less circumspect about their prospects, saying that without some major change on the ground Mosul could fall outright in a matter of days.
If that happens, it becomes the biggest city in an AQI-held territory that spans the borders of Iraq and Syria, and which includes seemingly large portions of both countries.
AQI’s territory is already a de facto Islamist state, even if its borders aren’t easily defined. The loss of Mosul to them, however, would mean one of Iraq’s richest and most important cities would be falling into the AQI state.