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Iraqi PM Maliki fires senior security commanders

The officers were fired for abandoning their ‘professional and military duty,’ according to a government statement

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Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki dismissed four senior security force commanders on Tuesday for abandoning their "professional and military duty" a week after the fall of the northwest city of Mosul to Sunni militants, the government said.

Top officers, including Lieutenant General Mehdi Sabah Gharawi, the top commander for Nineveh province where Sunni fighters have gained ground, were fired because they "failed to fulfill their professional and military duties, according to a government statement read out on state television.

One of the commanders, Hidayat Abdulraheem, had fled a battle and would be referred to the military court to be tried in absentia, it said.

A major offensive by militants, spearheaded by jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant but involving other groups, overran all of Nineveh and chunks of three more provinces in a matter of days.

Security forces performed poorly during the initial days of the assault, in some cases shedding uniforms and abandoning vehicles to flee.

They seem to have recovered somewhat from the shock of the onslaught, retaking some areas, but the militants continue to gain ground elsewhere.