The Iraqi Defense Ministry says army soldiers and volunteer forces have gained control over the country’s northern oil refinery city of Baiji from ISIL militants.
The Defense Ministry made the announcement on Sunday.
“Forces have cleansed and are in control completely of government complex, city center, Fatah mosque (main mosque) and surrounding neighborhoods,” Brigadier General Tahseen Ibrahim, a spokesman for the Iraqi Defense Ministry, said.
The commander of the Interior Ministry’s Quick Reaction Forces, Brigadier General Nassir al-Fartousi, also said the Iraqi flag has been raised on a local government building in the city in Salahuddin Province.
Representatives of volunteer forces fighting with the Iraqi army have also confirmed that the entire city has been liberated.
Reports say ISIL militants have fled toward Mosul.
Baiji, which lies north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, is located on a main road to the northern ISIL-held city of Mosul, the country’s second largest city.
Baiji fell to ISIL terrorists last year, but Iraqi forces later managed to regain control over parts of the city and the oil refinery.
The northern and western parts of Iraq have been witnessing unrest since ISIL militants started their campaign of terror in early June 2014. Iraq’s army has been joined by Kurdish forces, as well as Shia and Sunni volunteers in operations to drive the ISIL terrorists out of the areas they have seized.
ISIL militants have been committing atrocities against all minority groups in the region. They currently control some areas of Iraq and neighboring Syria.
The Takfiri group has been using oil facilities in the region to help finance its deadly operations.