The Associated Press has reported that Iraqi soldiers battling the Islamic State (ISIS) group has recaptured the heart of the town of Beiji, host of the country’s largest oil refinery, military official and state television said Tuesday. Read more on Huffington Post:
Retaking Beiji, 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Baghdad, could allow Iraqi forces a base to attack neighboring Tikrit, taken by the extremists after their lightning advance this summer. It also represents a morale boost for Iraq’s beleaguered security forces, which saw many of its troops flee the militant offensive.
State television quoted the top army commander in Beiji, Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, as saying troops recaptured the city’s local government and police headquarters at the center of the town. It aired what appeared to be archival footage of the town showing Iraqi army troops firing their weapons from behind sand barriers.
Al-Saadi later spoke to state television by telephone but the line appeared to be cut off after he said his forces were meeting stiff resistance.
A senior military official reached by telephone in Beiji confirmed the recapture of the city center, but added that intense clashes continued elsewhere in the town. He told The Associated Press that 75 percent of Beiji was now in the hands of government troops. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.