Iraqi forces purge key oil city from ISIL militants
Iran Press TV
Mon Jun 29, 2015 4:35PM
Iraqi army soldiers, supported by fighters from Popular Mobilization units, have cleansed the oil-rich city of Baiji in the northern province of Salahuddin from Takfiri ISIL militants, after wresting full control of the area.
Ahmed al-Asadi, a spokesman for the Popular Mobilization forces, told Arabic-language al-Sumaria satellite television network on Monday that Iraqi troops have taken complete control of the main street in the heart of Baiji, located some 210 kilometers (130 miles) north of the capital, Baghdad, after dismantling all improvised explosive devices.
Asadi, citing the second-in-command of the Popular Mobilization Units, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, also announced the formation of a command center tasked with the liberation of Mosul, which lies some 400 kilometers (248 miles) north of Baghdad and fell into ISIL hands on June 10, 2014.
The center reportedly comprises elite members of Popular Mobilization Units, Iraqi security personnel and some residents of Mosul.
Earlier on Monday, pro-government Asaib Ahl al-Haq (The League of the Righteous) group announced the launch of a campaign to purge Baiji from ISIL extremists, killing or injuring dozens of the Takfiris in the process.
On April 11, four days after 60 ISIL extremists were killed by Iraqi forces, the terrorists launched a fierce assault on Iraq's main oil refinery, which lies on the outskirts of the strategic northern city of Baiji. Sporadic clashes between Iraqi forces and ISIL extremists had been going on in the area surrounding the refinery ever since.
The Baiji refinery, which once produced some 300,000 barrels of refined petroleum products per day, was under the siege ISIL militants for months.
Baiji is located on a main road to the northern city of Mosul, which is under ISIL control and its seizure can choke off the militants' supply lines.
The northern and western parts of Iraq have been plagued by violence ever since ISIL Takfiri militants began their march through Iraqi territory in June 2014. Army soldiers and volunteer fighters have joined forces and are seeking to take back militant-held regions in joint operations.
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