The Iraq crisis in 28 photos

We can start the story here, in Syria, where bloodthirsty al Qaeda offshoot the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) gained many of their men, resources and skills during the civil war. They formally declared themselves in April 2013, but have roots in al Qaeda in Iraq - and now they're back there in a big way.
We can start the story here, in Syria, where bloodthirsty al Qaeda offshoot the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) gained many of their men, resources and skills during the civil war. They formally declared themselves in April 2013, but have roots in al Qaeda in Iraq - and now they're back there in a big way.
ISIL imposes harsh laws on areas they control, including restrictions on women, association, speech, and a ban of alcohol and cigarettes. Their punishments include cutting off hands and beheadings. Fighters are shown here stomping on confiscated cigarettes.
ISIL imposes harsh laws on areas they control, including restrictions on women, association, speech, and a ban of alcohol and cigarettes. Their punishments include cutting off hands and beheadings. Fighters are shown here stomping on confiscated cigarettes.
ISIL don't have a lot of friends. Other Syrian rebel groups like the Free Syrian Army (shown here) have declared war on them, and even al Qaeda has disowned the organisation, claiming they were killing too many innocent civilians in Syria.
ISIL don't have a lot of friends. Other Syrian rebel groups like the Free Syrian Army (shown here) have declared war on them, and even al Qaeda has disowned the organisation, claiming they were killing too many innocent civilians in Syria.
In January of 2014, ISIL took control of the predominantly Sunni city of Fallujah, in the west of Iraq, and seized large sections of the provincial capital Ramadi.
In January of 2014, ISIL took control of the predominantly Sunni city of Fallujah, in the west of Iraq, and seized large sections of the provincial capital Ramadi.
Their forces have swelled with Iraqi Sunnis, who say they've been oppressed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who is part of the Shia majority. His government has reportedly killed peaceful Sunni protesters and used anti-terrorism laws to mass-arrest Sunni citizens.
Their forces have swelled with Iraqi Sunnis, who say they've been oppressed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who is part of the Shia majority. His government has reportedly killed peaceful Sunni protesters and used anti-terrorism laws to mass-arrest Sunni citizens.
The present crisis was sparked when ISIL attacked and rapidly took control of the Mosul in early June. Mosul is the second largest city in Iraq, and is predominantly Sunni.
The present crisis was sparked when ISIL attacked and rapidly took control of the Mosul in early June. Mosul is the second largest city in Iraq, and is predominantly Sunni.
More than 150,000 people fled the city.
More than 150,000 people fled the city.
With little time to pack, people took what they could and left.
With little time to pack, people took what they could and left.
Only 7000 ISIL troops attacked Mosul, where 30,000 Iraqi troops were stationed - that's 40:1. Yet the army dropped their weapons and hardware - most of it state-of-the-art and supplied by the United States - and fled with the citizens.
Only 7000 ISIL troops attacked Mosul, where 30,000 Iraqi troops were stationed - that's 40:1. Yet the army dropped their weapons and hardware - most of it state-of-the-art and supplied by the United States - and fled with the citizens.
This speaks to a general lack of discipline and organisation within the Iraqi army, especially given the army is mixed Sunni-Shia.
This speaks to a general lack of discipline and organisation within the Iraqi army, especially given the army is mixed Sunni-Shia.
Soon after capturing Mosul, ISIL released graphic pictures showing them executing Iraqi soldiers.
Soon after capturing Mosul, ISIL released graphic pictures showing them executing Iraqi soldiers.
They claim to have executed 1700 Iraqi soldiers, but this has not been confirmed.
They claim to have executed 1700 Iraqi soldiers, but this has not been confirmed.
Captured soldiers await their fate.
Captured soldiers await their fate.
The Twitter account used to release the images was shut hours later.
The Twitter account used to release the images was shut hours later.
ISIL (also known as ISIS) rapidly consolidated their wins, capturing many cities in northern Iraq. Shown here is their territory on June 16.
ISIL (also known as ISIS) rapidly consolidated their wins, capturing many cities in northern Iraq. Shown here is their territory on June 16.
ISIL are now surrounding Iraq's largest oil refinery at Baiji, shown here in a file photo.
ISIL are now surrounding Iraq's largest oil refinery at Baiji, shown here in a file photo.
Oil is a key part of the ISIL strategy - much of their funding comes from the oil fields they control in Syria. Intelligence garnered from flash drives show that ISIL have about US$2 billion (NZ$2.3b) and loot.
Oil is a key part of the ISIL strategy - much of their funding comes from the oil fields they control in Syria. Intelligence garnered from flash drives show that ISIL have about US$2 billion (NZ$2.3b) and loot.
Camps have been set up to house the displaced.
Camps have been set up to house the displaced.
Camps have been set up to house the displaced.
Camps have been set up to house the displaced.
So far, the United States have refrained from sending in troops, other than a small force to protect the US Embassy and consulates. Here, President Barack Obama discusses the options with congressional leaders in the Oval Office.
So far, the United States have refrained from sending in troops, other than a small force to protect the US Embassy and consulates. Here, President Barack Obama discusses the options with congressional leaders in the Oval Office.
As ever, Republicans are criticising the White House for its caution, but after a decade of Middle Eastern wars, US citizens aren't keen to re-engage.
As ever, Republicans are criticising the White House for its caution, but after a decade of Middle Eastern wars, US citizens aren't keen to re-engage.
Iraq has requested US air support. Shown here is a file photo of the USS Meda Verde, an amphibious transport ship that has now entered the Persian Gulf with 550 Marines on board. The US has led "airstrike only" attacks before, notably in Libya in 2011.
Iraq has requested US air support. Shown here is a file photo of the USS Meda Verde, an amphibious transport ship that has now entered the Persian Gulf with 550 Marines on board. The US has led "airstrike only" attacks before, notably in Libya in 2011.
The Iraqi army has gained many Shia volunteers in recent days.
The Iraqi army has gained many Shia volunteers in recent days.
ISIL are also using the sectarian split to recruit.
ISIL are also using the sectarian split to recruit.
Iraqi volunteers.
Iraqi volunteers.
The Kurds, who control a semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq, are also fighting back against ISIL. They now control the northern city of Kirkuk, a move which some see as opportunistic, given the oil there.
The Kurds, who control a semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq, are also fighting back against ISIL. They now control the northern city of Kirkuk, a move which some see as opportunistic, given the oil there.
ISIL have a sophisticated propaganda arm, livetweeting the Mosul advance, and pushing news and views through an Android app that periodically tweets from the user's account. This means thousands of real-person Twitter accounts tweet ISIL messages in co-ordination.
ISIL have a sophisticated propaganda arm, livetweeting the Mosul advance, and pushing news and views through an Android app that periodically tweets from the user's account. This means thousands of real-person Twitter accounts tweet ISIL messages in co-ordination.
ISIL are now approaching Baghdad from the north, but an easy win seems unlikely, and some claim that ISIL are overstretching. Either way, Iraq is in chaos, and an end does not seem near.
ISIL are now approaching Baghdad from the north, but an easy win seems unlikely, and some claim that ISIL are overstretching. Either way, Iraq is in chaos, and an end does not seem near.

Iraq is in chaos as the vicious al Qaeda offshoot Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) wages a lightning attack on cities throughout the country.

Here we explain the crisis and its origins in 28 photos and maps.

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