The oil refinery complex in Iraqi city of Baiji is severely damaged and barely working, a Pentagon official said Monday, as the facility remains contested between Iraqi forces and Daesh militants.
"The oil refinery complex remains contested in a highly fluid battle field," said Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren. "A lot of the infrastructure is seriously damaged and our assessments is that majority of it is not functioning."
Warren's comments came after Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week that the US-led coalition had conducted 26 airstrikes in and around the Baiji oil refinery complex as Iraqi forces remained under militants’ pressure in the oil rich city.
The colonel acknowledged that the airstrikes might have damaged the oil infrastructure.
"Airstrikes can be in and around so we can’t draw our targeting and weaponry process to avoid damage to the critical infrastructure, in some cases it is unavoidable," said Warren.
The colonel also said Daesh has gained control of a portion of the oil refinery while "friendly forces" remain in control of a portion of it.
When talking about clearing Baiji of Daesh, Warren said it is in reference to the oil refinery complex, but the city is overwhelmingly under the control of Daesh.
Displaying a chart of damaged and destroyed Dash targets in Iraq and Syria since coalition airstrikes began last August, the colonel said 152 oil infrastructures have been damaged by airstrikes along with military equipment, staging areas and more than 6,200 other Daesh targets.
Baiji city was cleared of Daesh last November but it fell to the militant group early this year.
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