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Iran Press TV

Iraq forces continue Baiji mop-up operations

Iran Press TV

Wed Jul 8, 2015 7:48AM

Iraqi army forces backed by volunteer fighters are engaged in operations to cleanse the oil-rich city of Baiji in the northern province of Salahuddin from Takfiri ISIL militants, Press TV reports.

The Iraqi troops, who entered the strategic city a few weeks ago, are now fighting pockets of terrorists who are still holed up in some parts of Baiji.

"As you can see, the fighters are on the frontline; we have launched an all-out offensive on the Takfiris here in Baiji and in the coming days we declare Baiji an ISIL-free region," slain commander Fares al-Hujami told Press TV.

"We started fighting in [the town of] Jurf al-Sakhar and we are now in Baiji and we will continue to fight until victory or martyrdom," he added.

Abdul-Karim al-Hasnawi, another top Iraqi commander, who was also killed during the clashes with ISIL terrorists, said the Iraqi forces had managed to push the militants out of the region.

"We are working hand in hand with the Iraqi forces. Pockets of ISIL terrorists are still present at the heart of Baiji; however they are under the blockade as we managed to paralyze their mobility both through land and water. They have two choices either to die here or to escape," said al-Hasnawi.

He added that most of the Takfiri terrorists are now escaping to the south of Mosul.

Iraqi forces are currently in control of nearly 80 percent of Baiji. Battles are still raging on the strategic hill of Tal Abu Jrad south of Iraq's largest oil refinery in Baiji.

Earlier on Tuesday, three explosions in Baiji claimed the lives of at least 10 members of government forces and the Popular Mobilization Units and wounded 35 others.

Local media quoted security sources as saying that the Takfiri ISIL militants who had infiltrated into the town were behind the explosions.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi prime minister's office has denied rumors that the Takfiri militants are in control of Baiji, and said that government forces are in full control of most areas of the town.

Baiji is considered to be an important town in the country's oil industry. It has the largest oil refinery in Iraq. ISIL seized the town in June 2014 when they took control of parts of western and northern Iraq. Since then, Baiji has been the scene of fierce fighting between government forces and ISIL terrorists.

YH/NN/HRB



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