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Thousands Flee After Iraqi Militants Seize Mosul

Image: Iraqi families fleeing violence
Iraqis fleeing violence in the Nineveh province wait in their vehicles at a Kurdish checkpoint in Aski kalak, 24 miles west of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq on June 10. SAFIN HAMED / AFP - Getty Images

Sunni Islamist insurgents seized control of Iraq's second largest city of Mosul early on Tuesday in a spectacular show of strength against the Shi'ite-led government.

Thousands of families fled north towards the autonomous Kurdistan region, which shares a border with Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital. Many were stuck in their vehicles as they waited at Kurdish checkpoints.

Image: Iraqi families fleeing violence
Iraqi families fleeing violence in the northern Nineveh province are given water as they gather at a Kurdish checkpoint in Aski Kalak. SAFIN HAMED / AFP - Getty Images

The fall of Mosul deals a serious blow to Baghdad's efforts to fight Sunni militants who have regained ground and momentum in Iraq over the past year, pushing into Mosul last week and overrunning a military base and freeing hundreds of prisoners.

— Reuters