The Iraq crisis in 28 photos

02:47, Jun 19 2014
The Iraq crisis in 25 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.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
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.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
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.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
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.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
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 Iraq crisis in 25 photos
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 Iraq crisis in 25 photos
More than 150,000 people fled the city.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
With little time to pack, people took what they could and left.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
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.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
This speaks to a general lack of discipline and organisation within the Iraqi army, especially given the army is mixed Sunni-Shia.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
Soon after capturing Mosul, ISIL released graphic pictures showing them executing Iraqi soldiers.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
They claim to have executed 1700 Iraqi soldiers, but this has not been confirmed.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
Captured soldiers await their fate.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
The Twitter account used to release the images was shut hours later.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
ISIL (also known as ISIS) rapidly consolidated their wins, capturing many cities in northern Iraq. Shown here is their territory on June 16.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
ISIL are now surrounding Iraq's largest oil refinery at Baiji, shown here in a file photo.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
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.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
Camps have been set up to house the displaced.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
Camps have been set up to house the displaced.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
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.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
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.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
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 Iraq crisis in 25 photos
The Iraqi army has gained many Shia volunteers in recent days.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
ISIL are also using the sectarian split to recruit.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
Iraqi volunteers.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
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 Iraq crisis in 25 photos
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.
The Iraq crisis in 25 photos
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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