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Iraqi army repels ISIS attack on Baiji oil refinery

ISIS extremists have been pushed back in some areas northern Iraq

Published: Updated:

Iraq’s armed forces have repelled a major attack by extremists on Baiji oil refinery in northern Iraq, Al Arabiya News Channel on Friday.

Last month the army seized control of the country’s largest oil refinery after a prolonged siege.

But fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have since fought back seeking to re-impose their control around the sprawling oil facility.

Last week the fighters were present in four of Baiji's 12 neighborhoods, as well as areas on the perimeter of the sprawling refinery complex. But the army controlled its southern approaches, preventing insurgents from surrounding it, Reuters quoted a Baiji resident who toured the area.

A video circulated on the Internet showing ISIS fighters denying that they had been driven out of Baiji, and what purported to be two suicide truck bombings targeting the refinery defenses.

"Yes, they infiltrated some areas," one of the speakers said, referring to the Iraqi security forces. "But, God willing, either they will withdraw or they will be exterminated."

Around the refinery, ISIS insurgents still held a housing complex on its western edge and were digging trenches in the Makhmour hills overlooking the installation from the north, despite coming under fire from helicopters, the resident said.

Baiji and surrounded the refinery during a June offensive when it swept south towards the capital Baghdad, capturing cities, farmlands and oilfields and meeting virtually no resistance from Iraq government forces.

Shi'ite militias and Kurdish peshmerga, backed by U.S.-led air strikes since August, have helped contain the radical Sunni insurgents and pushed them back in some provinces. But they have continued to make gains in the western Sunni province of Anbar.

[With Reuters]