As many as 500,000 people have been forced to flee Iraq's second city of Mosul after Islamist militants effectively took control of it.
Troops were among those fleeing as hundreds of jihadists from the ISIS group overran the city and much of the surrounding province of Nineveh.
Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki responded by asking parliament to declare a state of emergency to grant him greater powers.
The US said the development showed ISIS is a threat to the entire region.
ISIS - the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - is an offshoot of al-Qaeda which now controls considerable territory in eastern Syria and western and central Iraq, in a campaign to set up a militant enclave straddling the border.
Residents of Mosul said jihadist flags were flying from buildings and that the militants had announced over loudspeakers they had "come to liberate" the city.
Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-27789229
Pity. Lot of wasted blood and fighting there to take it, but it's a pretty enough place and the people were decent.