Iraqi Militias Retake Baiji From IS

Iraqi Militias Retake Baiji From ISIraqi Militias Retake Baiji From IS

Iraqi Shia militias said they had retaken control of the center of Baiji, home to Iraq’s largest oil refinery, after months of battling the IS for control of the strategic city.

The militias and federal police wrested control of Baiji city center from IS militants on Sunday after weeks of intense fighting, Shia fighters told France24 as they made their way through the ruins of the city.

“There wasn’t much resistance. They are cowards. Some were killed, others fled,” said Chassib, one of the fighters. “It didn’t feel like a difficult mission. We did kill some of the militants and have taken away their bodies, but we didn’t take any prisoners.”

The Pentagon said that Iraqi forces, backed by US-led coalition airstrikes, have opened supply lines into the city and the oil refinery but that it was not yet ready to declare the area “liberated,” according to Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Defense Department spokesman.

Iraqi troops broke through to a contingent of their forces who had been dug in at the northwest corner of the refinery for several months and were able to deliver equipment and personnel to the men on the ground. Warren said the troops moving toward the oil refinery were primarily conventional Iraqi security forces. “Shia militias operating under the control of the Iraqi government, made up a majority of the units operating in Baiji city center,” he said.