Most parts of Baiji back under control of Iraqi forces: Officials
Iraqi army soldiers, backed by volunteer Shia forces, have liberated most parts of the northern town of Baiji and the country’s largest oil refinery there from the grip of Daesh terrorists, security sources say.
Sabah al-Numani, spokesman for Iraq’s counter-terror forces, said Thursday that government troops are now in control of most parts of the strategic complex near the northern town of Baiji, situated some 190 kilometers (20 miles) from the capital, Baghdad.
“Counter-terrorism forces with volunteers are holding a tight grip over all the gates of the refinery and its facilities,” Numani said.
The new army gains against the terrorists come a day after Iraqi armed forces and volunteer fighters launched a large-scale military offensive against Daesh Takfiris to recapture Baiji, a city located on the main road between Baghdad and the Daesh-held city of Mosul in the northern province of Nineveh.
Meanwhile, Baiji’s Mayor Mohammed Mahmoud also said Iraqi federal police have retaken control of most of the city.
“I can confirm to you that our forces won the battle of the refinery and for Baiji town. We managed to control almost all parts of the town and now we are surrounding some Daesh snipers entrenched in some buildings,” he said.
Hadi al-Amiri, who heads Iraq’s Badr Organization, also praised the progress in the ongoing army offensive against Daesh, saying, “We caught the enemy off guard and we attacked them from all directions.”
“Operations have started to liberate or complete the liberation of the whole area of Baiji and not only the town. The operations include liberating Baiji refinery, Siniya, Siniya base and also area north of the Refinery of Baiji and up to the fertiliser plant, ammunitions warehouses and the Egyptian firm premises,” Amiri added.
Elsewhere on the battlefield against Daesh, pro-government forces further closed in on Ramadi, the provincial capital of the western Anbar Province on Wednesday, retaking a key bridge north of the city.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Iraq’s Joint Operations Command for Anbar Province pledged that victory in the tough anti-Daesh battle is very near.
In April, Iraqi armed forces wrested back full control of the city of Tikrit in embattled Salahuddin Province in the Arab country’s north after driving Daesh Takfiri extremists out of the area.
In response to the heavy losses the terrorists suffered in Tikrit, they stepped up their terror attacks in Baiji as well as Anbar Province.
Baiji has changed hands several times between Iraqi forces and Daesh militants since the terror group swept through Iraq in June last year after seizing swathes of land in neighboring Syria.
Since then, the Iraqi army, backed by fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units, has been engaged in heavy battles with the terrorists on several fronts in the militant-held areas, inflicting heavy losses on them.