Islamist insurgents battled Iraqi forces for control of the
nations largest oil refinery. Local police said
militants are inside the plant, while the central
government said its elite troops are in control.
Army helicopters struck fighters from the Islamic State in
Iraq and the Levant near Baiji after militants seized the
, according to a
statement from the Salahudin provincial police. ISIL
fighters are still inside the facility and the battle
continues, it said.
Iraqs troops killed 40 militants and repelled their
attack, military spokesman Qassim Ata said in a televised
Baiji has about 40% of Iraqs refining
capacity, according to
data compiled by Bloomber
g. The refinery
, about 120 miles (190
kilometers) north of Baghdad, mainly supplies the north of
the country and its capital, according to Robin Mills, head
of consulting at Manaar Energy Consulting and Project
Iraq will have to increase the import of oil products
to make up for the loss of Baijis production,
The rapid battlefield success of ISIL, a Sunni Muslim
al-Qaeda breakaway group also embroiled in battles in
neighboring Syria, threatens to re-ignite a sectarian civil
war in Iraq, three years after the withdrawal of US forces.
It also risks escalating into a wider conflict that draws
in the US and Iran in defense of Prime Minister Nouri
al-Malikis Shiite-led government.
Iraq is the largest oil producer, after Saudi Arabia, in
the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Anti-terrorism forces killed a Saudi fighter identified as
Abu Yamama al-Dossary during the failed attack
on the Baiji refinery, state-sponsored Iraqiya television
reported. A fuel tank at the plant caught fire during the
has halted operations
since June 15, the police said.
While violence sweeps much of northern Iraq, the conflict
has so far spared crude production in the countrys
south. The northern Kirkuk oilfield is being defended by
troops from the self-governing Kurdish region.
Iraq, excluding its Kurdish enclave, holds 150 billion bbl
in proven crude reserves, the worlds fifth-biggest
deposits. The Kurdistan Regional Government controls 45