Just after the U.S. military briefed reporters only a week earlier that ISIS was weakening its hold in Iraq, the militant group has reportedly taken over most of the Baiji oil refinery. The largest of its kind in Iraq, the refinery is located north of Baghdad in Salahuddin province.
Breitbart reported that U.S. Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder discounted the terrorist group’s ability to mount major attacks during a briefing last Friday.
“While initial reports may sometimes give the impression ISIS is on the offensive, we see no evidence that they’re able to do so,” he said.
Since that statement, there have numerous reports from various news outlets that ISIS have overrun the oil refinery. A Spanish news agency reported 60 percent of the facility had fallen to the control of the jihadists, while an Iraq Oil Report article stated the group has control of 80 percent of the compound.
News coverage from across the world shared similar reports. China’s Xinhua reported that ISIS had captured “more than half” of the facility. The Australian reported that the militant group had seized part of the refinery.
According to Breitbart, last Friday, Ryder said the Iraqi forces had taken back the oil facility from ISIS and, at the time, were “conducting clearing operations and successfully repelling ISIS’s attempts to regain control of the refinery.”
A police officer in Salahuddin province told a news outlet that Iraqi troops defending the Baiji refinery were under “intense attack” by ISIS jihadists, adding that the terrorists “have been able to surround Iraqi forces inside the refinery and cut off military support.”
It has been reported that the Iraqi Ministry Defense has acknowledged that fierce battles between Iraqi forces and terrorists seeking to seize the oil facility continue to rage.