Iraqi forces free oil refinery town from IS

Baghdad, Oct 20 (IANS) Iraqi security forces on Tuesday recaptured the oil refinery town of Baiji from IS militants in the province of Salahudin, a provincial security source said.

Government troops drove out IS militants from Baiji, a town located some 200 kms north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, after days of fierce battles, Xinhua news agency quoted the anonymous source as saying.

This came after the earlier capture of Iraq’s largest oil refinery near Baiji and the town of Seiniyah.

Clashes continued as government forces try to regain control of three villages north of Baiji, the source said, adding that the troops and explosive experts have started defusing roadside bombs and combing through booby-trapped buildings in central Baiji.

Also on Tuesday, thousands of government troops with Iraqi and international air cover, pressed on toward Fatha, an area 40 kms north of Baiji, and toward the IS-held town of Hawijah in the part of the oil-rich Kirkuk province, the source added.

Late on Saturday, government troops seized several villages west of Tigris river, amid efforts to push on to the IS stronghold of Shirqat, 280 kms north of Baghdad, the source said.

Salahudin is a predominantly Sunni province. Its capital, Tikrit, 170 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, is the hometown of former President Saddam Hussein.

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