Beiji Oil Refinery Ablaze

Beiji Oil Refinery AblazeBeiji Oil Refinery Ablaze

Fighters from the Islamic State (ISIS) group have set large parts of Iraq’s largest oil refinery on fire, in an effort to thwart advances by Iraqi security forces.

Black plumes of smoke could be seen coming from parts of the sprawling complex as the Iraqi army backed by Shia militias advanced to within two kilometers of the facility, which lies about 200 kilometers from the capital Baghdad. Colonel Maan al-Saeedi, the commander of the second federal police brigade, told Al Jazeera: “ISIS have rigged [Beiji] with booby trapped trenches, sand barracks and roadside bombs.”

“We are hoping that our forces will overcome these obstacles, the enemy is desperate and lost manpower and firepower and therefore is trying different methods to halt our advance.”

Beiji is Iraq’s largest oil refinery and produces a third of the country’s oil output. The government would lose a large slice of revenue if the installation was destroyed. ISIS captured Beiji city in June during a lightning advance through northern Iraq and since then, they have surrounded the oil refinery and halted its production.