The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria group has killed five policemen in a town near Iraq's biggest refinery, in an attack that may help ease pressure on some of its fighters trapped in the strategically important facility, a security official said on Wednesday.
The official in a regional security command center said the insurgents mounted the operation at Tal Albu Jarad village as part of a battle for control of Baiji refinery, which has changed hands several times.
After receiving reinforcements, ISIS militants recaptured three neighborhoods in the town of Baiji near the refinery, but fresh clashes have erupted there, the security official said.
Iraq's U.S.-backed government is focused on two key areas in its bid to loosen the grip of Islamic State, which controls a third of major oil producer Iraq and large parts of neighboring Syria.
As well as in the war of attrition at Baiji in the north, Iraqi government forces are hoping to oust ISIS in Anbar, a vast western province mostly held by the insurgents.
Seventeen killed in battles near Iraq's Baiji refineryThe refinery beside the town of Baiji has changed hands before, reflecting the Iraqi army's struggle to hold territory it recaptures after months of clashes. Middle East
ISIS attacks Iraqi forces near Baiji refineryFour suicide bombers in vehicles packed with explosives hit security forces in al-Hijjaj, south of Baiji town Middle East
Iraq forces advance against ISIS in strategic northern townBaghdad regained control of Baiji -- located on the road to IS hub Mosul and near the country's largest oil refinery Middle East
Iraqi forces free 300 soldiers held hostage in BaijiIraqi forces also said they thwarted a third attempt by ISIS militants to break through their defensive lines east of the city of Ramadi overnight on Thursday Middle East