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IS expands in Iraq's largest oil refinery

The Islamic State (IS) militant group on Thursday captured more ground in the vast oil refinery of Baiji in Iraq's Salahudin province, while battles with the security forces continued in the western province of Anbar, security source said.

After several days of tit-for-tat battles with the security forces, the militants captured more than half of the oil refinery of Baiji and heavy clashes are underway as the troops and allied Shiite and Sunni militias are showing stubborn resistance, a security source from Salahudin province told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Months of bloody clashes in the huge oil refinery, some 200 km north of the capital of Baghdad, left some 20 square km of oil installations and related buildings devastated, while fires in the oil facilities continued and huge columns of black smoke covered the area.

On April 18, security forces freed most areas of Baiji refinery, while small areas remained in the hands of the militants who refused to withdraw and continued fighting in some buildings until more militants came later to make a new advance and reclaim their lost positions, the source said.

Since March 2, around 30,000 Iraqi troops 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, including Tikrit and other key towns and villages.

In Anbar province, the security forces and allied militias, known as Hashd Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization, imposed a siege on the IS-held town of Garma, just east of the city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad, while the troops are fighting fierce clashes with the IS militants inside the town, a provincial security source told Xinhua.

"The troops are moving slowly to recapture the town, as the militants planted dozens of roadside bombs and booby-trapped many buildings and vehicles to prevent the advance of the troops," the source said, adding that teams of explosive experts are working hard to defuse the bombs before any advance inside the town.

Meanwhile, Iraqi aircraft bombed a vehicle carrying IS militants near the town of Haditha, some 200 km northwest of Baghdad, destroying the vehicle and killing five militants aboard, the source said.

Separately, the IS militants pounded an army base with rockets in the provincial capital city of Ramadi, some 110 km west of Baghdad, leaving four soldiers killed and seven others injured, the source added.

Also in the province, Iraqi aircraft pounded suspected positions of IS militants in the militant-seized city of Fallujah, killing 10 people and wounding six others, the source said.

The IS group has seized most of Iraq's largest province of Anbar and tried to advance toward Baghdad, but several counter attacks by security forces and Shiite militias have pushed them back.

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

[Source: Xinhua, Baghdad, 30Apr15]

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War in Iraq
small logoThis document has been published on 05May15 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.