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Iraqi Forces Retake Most of Baiji Refinery


FILE - Iraq's largest oil refinery in the northern town of Baiji, Iraq.
FILE - Iraq's largest oil refinery in the northern town of Baiji, Iraq.

Iraqi forces entered and recaptured most of the country's largest refinery from Islamic State militants on Saturday.

A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State said troops retook all of the Baiji refinery about midday. But officials in Salahuddin province, where it is located, said fighting continued around some facilities.

The insurgents attacked the refinery at Baiji, 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Baghdad, for several days a week ago by crossing the security perimeter around it. They took over several installations, including storage tanks, a technical institute and a distribution point.

The Baiji refinery produced about 175,000 barrels of oil per day before it shut in June, when Islamic State fighters overran it at the same time they took the city of Mosul. Iraqi forces retook it from militants in November but lost control of it again.

A source in the military command for Salahuddin province said clashes continued Saturday, with insurgents fighting the army's elite Golden Division and paramilitaries in southern and western parts of the refinery complex.

Raid Jubbouri, the governor of Salahuddin province, said Iraqi forces were in full control of the refinery “from a military perspective,” but some insurgents remained hidden inside the complex.

Iraqi troops and Shi'ite paramilitaries dealt a defeating blow to Islamic State insurgents this month, routing them from the city of Tikrit.

Islamic State struck back at Baiji and in the western province of Anbar, forcing thousands of families to leave and threatening to take the provincial capital, Ramadi.

However, a provincial official said reinforcements were on the way and the city was not in immediate danger.

In separate violence Saturday, police said a roadside bomb killed three people and wounded 10 on a commercial street in central Baghdad.

A bomb explosion missed a police patrol in the capital's western suburbs, killing one civilian and wounding three, official sources said.

Police said a bomb attached to a minibus also exploded in Baghdad's southeastern district of New Baghdad, killing three passengers and wounding seven.

Medical officials speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed the casualties.

Some information for this report came from Reuters.

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