ISIS militants on Wednesday attacked Iraq’s biggest oil refinery, killing five soldiers and reportedly taking control of 75 percent of the plant, located in Baiji, according to Reuters.
The refinery was attacked in the early hours of Wednesday morning with mortars and machine guns. Iraqi security officials however, continue to deny that ISIS has overrun the plant.
“The militants have managed to break into the refinery. Now they are in control of the production units, administration building and four watchtowers. This is 75 percent of the refinery,” an official currently inside the plant told Reuters.
Clashes are still reportedly taking place between ISIS extremists and Iraqi security forces in the refinery, while all foreign staff were evacuated from the location on Tuesday.
The oil plant is located a mere 155 miles north of Baghdad, highlighting the swift advancement of ISIS towards the country’s capital.
The latest ISIS attack comes a week after the hardliner Sunni group seized Iraq’s second city of Mosul, forcing up to 500,000 residents to flee into neighboring Kurdish controlled Irbil.
Baiji’s oil refinery produces up to 300,000 barrels of oil a day, making the Iraqi economy heavily reliant on its consumption.
A disruption to Iraq’s oil production could deliver a harsh blow to the world’s second largest oil exporter.
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