VIDEO-Iraq crisis: army deserter speaks out - Telegraph

A group of military deserters have painted a devastating picture of the ability of the Iraqi army to stand and fight, telling The Telegraph how entire divisions surrendered Mosul, Iraq's second city, without firing a single shot.

Speaking from the Kurdish city of Erbil, the defectors accused their officers of cowardice and betrayal, saying generals in Mosul "handed over" the city over to Sunni insurgents, with whom they shared sectarian and historical ties.

With Sunni insurgents now threatening the capital Baghdad the eye-witness accounts from the deserters' reveal how sectarian enmity have, in the space of mere weeks, destroyed the Iraqi national army, which the US government spent billions of dollars to build.

Corporal Muammer Naser, 35, told The Telegraph that his superiors had sympathised with remnants of the regime of Saddam Hussein, and that the generals essentially passed control of the city to them. Organised militias of Saddam sympathisers are said to have participated in the takeover of Mosul and Saddam's birthplace Tikrit, this week.

Cpl Naser said: "The war now is definitely sectarian. In Mosul, the Sunni soldiers didn't want to fight against the Sunni insurgents."

The developments indicate that the Iraqi government no longer feels able to rely on its forces, amid the deteriorating security situation that every day more closely resembles a sectarian civil war.

The desertions by military commanders has caused Cpl Naser to pine for the days when American military commanders were in charge of Iraq's national army after the US invasion in 2004.

"In 2004 I was fighting and we saw that the lieutenants and the colonels in the US army were standing side by side with us and they were raising our morales," said Cpl Naser. "But when you see that the other officers are you weak and are afraid, who is going to raise the morale of the soldiers to fight?"