Fighters of the Islamic State militia took control Sunday of the largest dam in Iraq, a reservoir of oil and three cities after breaking the biggest defeat the Kurdish forces since they began operations in the region in June.
Capturing the Mosul dam after just 24 hours' offense could give the Sunni militiamen ability to flood the big cities, as part of its campaign to topple the Shiite government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
The Islamic State, which considers the Shiite majority in Iraq as apostates who deserve death, also captured the site of Ain Zalah, adding four others who are already under their control, and three cities.
The insurgents met with strong Kurdish resistance only at the beginning of his latest offensive, when they took the city of Zumar.
Then, Islamists raised their black flags, a ritual that usually precedes a mass executions of captured opponents and imposing an ideology that even Al Qaeda considered excessive.
The group, which has declared a caliphate in Iraq and parts of Syria, presents the greatest challenge to the stability of Iraq, OPEC member country since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Since thousands of Iraqi soldiers fled before the offensive of the Islamic State, Shiite militias and Kurdish fighters have become an important line of defense against insurgents who have threatened to march on Baghdad.
But the fighting on Sunday have questioned the effectiveness of Kurdish fighters and increased the pressure on Iraqi leaders to form a government alliance capable of stopping the Islamic State.
(Writing by Michael Georgy. Editing by Madrid. Edited by Patricio Santiago Abusleme via Mesa)