Iraqi forces close to Baiji refinery

2014-11-14 22:34

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Baghdad - Iraqi government forces got within a kilometre of the country's biggest refinery on Friday, the closest they have come to breaking an Islamic State siege of the facility in months of fighting, two army officers and a witness said.

Fighting raged in a village between the complex and the nearby town of Baiji, near a deserted area believed to contain roadside bombs planted by the militants that have been preventing an advance, they said.

A witness said security forces had crossed a bridge close to the refinery, 200km north of the capital.

"Daesh [ISIS] militants are escaping to the direction of a river. Aircraft are targeting them," said an army captain.

Iraq has been struggling with widespread security challenges since the ultra-hardline Sunni insurgents swept through the north in June, fuelling sectarian tensions.

On Friday, two bombs exploded in Baghdad in separate attacks, killing a total of 23 people, police and medical sources said.

Islamic State fighters seized the city of Baiji and surrounded the sprawling refinery in that first advance in June.

The group also controls territory in neighbouring Syria and has proclaimed a caliphate straddling both countries.

Iraq's army initially put up little resistance to ISIS. But it has been helped in recent weeks by US-led air strikes on militant positions.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi sacked 26 military commanders this week for corruption and incompetence in the aftermath of the ISIS advance. In September, he retired two senior generals as part of an overhaul of the country's armed forces.

Speaking through an aide after Friday prayers, Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali-al Sistani reiterated his criticism of corruption in the military.

He also called on the government to get its finances in order, fund projects and create jobs.

Read more on:    isis  |  iraq

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.