Iraqi forces nearly recapture oil refinery town in Salahudin

Iraqi forces nearly recapture oil refinery town in Salahudin
# 30 June 2015 21:43 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Iraqi security forces on Tuesday retook most part of Baiji near major oil refinery in Salahudin province amid fierce clashes with the Islamic State (IS) militants, a security source and a tribal leader said, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

The security forces and allied militias known as Hashd Shaabi, or popular mobilization, covered by Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition aircraft, seized most parts of the town of Baiji, some 200 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, after two days of heavy clashes with the extremist militants, said Ahmed al-Qaisi, a leader of al-Qaisi local Sunni tribe.

"Iraqi forces and Hashd Shaabi managed in the morning to recapture the town's water facility as well as the districts of Hrejiyah, Jadidah and Be'iji in the eastern part of the town after fierce overnight clashes with Daash (IS group)," al-Qaisi told Xinhua by telephone.

During the day, the troops made an advance toward the western part of Baiji and deployed around the districts of Asri, Naft and Kahrabaa and are fighting to free them soon, while other troops are advancing toward the central part of the town to free the government compound and the police headquarters from the IS militants, al-Qaisi added.

Meanwhile, the security forces lost control of the strategic hill of Tal Abu Jrad after heavy clashes with IS militants in south of Baiji oil refinery, just one day after the troops captured the hill which controls the roads between Baiji and the IS-held town of Seiniyah, some 10 km west of Baiji, a provincial security source said on condition of anonymity.

The battles to free the town of Baiji came as heavy clashes continue in the nearby vast oil refinery as the security forces are fighting to drive IS militants out of the refinery, which large of its parts are under control of the extremist militants, the source said.

The Iraqi warplanes and helicopter gunship as well as the international aircraft carried out several air strikes on IS positions and their supply routes, the source said without giving further details.

Since March 2, security forces and thousands of allied Shiite and Sunni militias have been involved in Iraq's biggest offensive in order to recapture from IS militants the northern part of Salahudin province.

The security situation in Iraq has drastically deteriorated since June 10, 2014, when bloody clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and IS militants.