Iraqi Forces Battling to Retake Beiji Refinery

Iraqi Forces Battling to Retake Beiji RefineryIraqi Forces Battling to Retake Beiji Refinery

Iraqi forces and Shiite units are involved in heavy fighting to retake the country’s largest oil refinery from the IS insurgent group. Speaking from Beiji, a member of the elite forces said they were aiming to retake the whole area.

“We stormed a building inside the Beiji Refinery with the support of [Shiite unit] Hashid Shaabi. We are inside the refinery now. God willing, within the coming few hours, we will liberate the whole refinery and the area outside the refinery with the help of Almighty God,” he said, Al Jazeera reported.

According to the Shiite group, an area of 50 km south of the town of Beiji including the villages of Al-Hajjaj and the rural area of Al-Mazraa have been recaptured. Control of the refinery has been hotly contested for months.

IS holds large sections of the Beiji Refinery complex in northern Iraq where police, soldiers and elite special forces are holding out.

Iraqi government forces recaptured the  refinery from IS in November 2014, lost control of it again and then recaptured it in April. IS militants broke back into the perimeter of the complex earlier this month and have been slowly gaining ground.

 Twin Blasts in Baghdad

At least 15 people were killed and 45 injured in explosions at two prominent hotels in Baghdad, police officials said Friday.

The double bombing occurred late Thursday when two separate car bombs went off in the parking lots of the Cristal and Babil hotels. The two car bombs were detonated by remote control, police said.

Police said a third car bomb found near the Babil Hotel was discovered and defused early Friday. A police officer blamed the infiltration on the negligence of the hotel guards and the weak security measures adopted by police in Baghdad.

In Friday’s violence, police said a roadside bomb hit a commuter bus in eastern Baghdad, killing three passengers and wounding 10 others. Nobody claimed responsibility for the attacks, but security forces blamed the attack on the IS group.