Iraqi security forces have entered the country’s largest oil refinery near the key northern town of Baiji for the first time after a months-long operation against ISIL terrorists in the area.
“The first Iraqi force, the anti-terrorism force called Mosul Battalion, entered Baiji refinery for the first time in five months,” Saleh Jaber, of the Baiji refinery protection force, said on Tuesday.
The refinery, which is located in Salahuddin province, had been under the siege of the ISIL militants for months. It produces some 300,000 barrels of oil per day, meeting a great portion of the country’s demand.
The advance to the refinery comes a few days after Iraqi forces recaptured Baiji from the ISIL militants. The Iraqi army carried out a mop-up operation across the town on Friday.
Iraqi soldiers and volunteer forces freed the central areas of Baiji on November 11 and have established security and stability there.
Iraqi forces have already flushed the ISIL extremists out of the central parts of Salahuddin province.
The ISIL militants had been controlling Baiji since June. The town is located on a main road to the northern city of Mosul, which is under the ISIL control, and its liberation can choke off the militants’ supply lines.
The ISIL terrorists currently control swaths of territory across Syria and Iraq. They have been committing heinous crimes in the captured areas, including mass executions and beheading of local residents as well as foreign nationals.