Iraqi government forces have managed to take full control of two towns close to the country's largest oil refinery in the northern province of Salahuddin from ISIL (Daesh) militants.
General Ayad al-Lahabi, a commander with the Salahuddin Command Center, said Iraqi troops, backed by pro-government Popular Mobilization units, took back the towns of al-Malha and al-Mazraah, located 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) south of the Beiji oil refinery, on Friday, killing at least 160 ISIL members in the process.
Al-Lahabi said security forces are trying to secure two corridors around the refinery, situated 180 kilometers (112 miles) north of the capital, Baghdad.
On April 11, the ISIL terrorists launched a fierce assault on Iraq’s main oil refinery, which lies on the outskirts of the strategic northern city of Baiji.
An Iraqi military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the raid on the refinery was "the fiercest since we broke the siege [of the facility] a few months ago."
The Baiji refinery, which once produced some 300,000 barrels of refined petroleum products per day, was under the siege of the ISIL militants for months.
In November last year, Iraqi forces retook the city of Baiji and broke the siege on its oil refinery. However, ISIL recaptured the city later.
Baiji is located on a main road to the northern city of Mosul, which is under the ISIL control and its liberation can choke off the militants’ supply lines.
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