Iraqi forces besieged inside the country’s largest oil refinery are running low on food and pleading for reinforcements to save them from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants who have advanced deep into the compound in the past week.
The insurgents now hold large sections of the sprawling Baiji refinery complex in northern Iraq where some 200 policemen, soldiers and elite special forces are holding out.
“We are surrounded by Daesh from all sides,” said a policeman called Mohanad, speaking via telephone from the refinery where his unit has taken up defensive positions in a guest house on the eastern side of the complex. Daesh is the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
“We can hear Daesh fighters shouting and threatening to behead anyone they catch. We are running short of ammunition, food and drinking water. We eat only one meal a day. We tear our uniforms to bandage other soldiers’ and policemen’s wounds.”
Mohanad, who is from Baghdad, said he had set aside one bullet to end his own life in case they were overcome by the militants: “It’s an easier way to die than being beheaded.”
Baiji refinery has been one of the most fiercely contested spots in Iraq since ISIS militants tore through the north last summer and proclaimed a caliphate.
Government forces held out for months under siege inside the refinery last year. The siege was broken in November, but the fighters launched a new offensive there last month after being driven out of the nearby city of Tikrit.
After the militants captured much of the compound, Iraqi officials said on April 18 they were again fully in control. But the militants have since gained ground once again.
Two officers from the military operations command for Salahuddin province where Baiji is located said the insurgents had now pushed so far into the complex that it was almost impossible for planes to target them without damaging the refinery as well.
Photographs published by ISIS show crates of ammunition they say were plundered from Iraqi forces in Baiji and the disfigured bodies of policemen identifiable only from their blue camouflage uniforms. The pictures cannot be independently confirmed.
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر