Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for a national state of emergency after the city of Mosul in the northern province of Nineveh fell to al-Qaeda-inspired fighters.
Maliki said on Tuesday that he would ask parliament to declare the emergency after the overnight takeover by fighters from groups including the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), AP reported.
Militants effectively seized Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, on Tuesday.
Maliki made the call in a televised news conference Tuesday.
“We will not allow Mosul to be under the banner of terrorism, We call on all international organizations to support Iraq and its stance in fighting terrorism, and resume their responsibility to secure international security,” Maliki said.
“The entire world will suffer if terrorism spreads.”
The fighters are reported to have freed up to 3,000 people from prisons in the region.
“The city of Mosul is outside the control of the state and at the mercy of the militants,” an official at Iraq's interior ministry told the AFP.
Fighters have in recent days launched major operations in Nineveh and four other provinces, killing scores of people.
The intelligence estimates Iraq has released suggests it's not just Iraqi fighters. There are foreign fighters who have come to fight for ISIL, Al Jazeera reported.
Mosul is the second Iraqi city to be captured by fighters this year after Fallujah.
Control of prisons
Before Mosul fell, ISIL fighters took control of the governor's headquarters, prisons, and television stations, reports said.
The AP news agency reported that the group freed about 1,400 prisoners held in the city's jails.
A pro-ISIL Twitter feed said the group had released about 3,000 people from three prisons.
Describing the assault, Ali Mahmoud, a media official for Nineveh, said fighters stormed the provincial headquarters building in Mosul late on Monday night.
He confirmed accounts by Mosul residents that many of the police and army forces had disappeared by Tuesday.
Osama al-Nujaifi, the parliament speaker and brother of Atheel al-Nujaifi, the state governor, said he had asked the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad for help in order to stop what he described as “a foreign invasion by ISIL.”
Nujaifi said he had also requested the help of the Kurdish peshmerga but received no response from the Kurdistan Regional Government, which controls the fighters.