ISIL takes control of Baiji oil refinery
The Baiji refinery produces a third of the country's oil output. (AFP/File)
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Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have reportedly taken control of an important oil refinery in Iraq.
According to media reports, militants captured Baiji refinery in Salahuddin Province, north of the capital, Baghdad.
However, the reports were rejected by Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, who told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that Iraqi forces were in control of the refinery.
Militants have been attacking Baiji refinery, which produces a third of the country’s oil output, for the past ten days. Earlier reports said that the militants destroyed some stores of oil in the refinery.
The refinery was reportedly shut down last week and many employees had been evacuated because major towns seized by the militants, including the city of Mosul, were no longer being supplied with refined products.
Iraqi forces continue their battle against the ISIL group, which is threatening to take its acts of violence to several Iraqi cities, including Baghdad.
On June 10, the ISIL militants took control of Mosul, the capital of Nineveh Province. They later took control of the city of Tikrit, located about 140 kilometers (87 miles) northwest of Baghdad.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said that the country’s security forces would confront the terrorists, calling the seizure of Mosul a “conspiracy.” The Iraqi prime minister has also blamed Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the security crisis and growing terrorism in his country, denouncing Riyadh as a major supporter of global terrorism.