Iraqi security forces have entered the country’s largest refinery for the first time after months of battling fighters who had surrounded it, according to an Iraqi police colonel and state television.
If confirmed, the recovery of the Beiji facility from ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, could provide critical momentum for government forces charged with restoring stability in the country.
“The first Iraqi force, the anti-terrorism force called Mosul Battalion, entered Beiji refinery for the first time in five months,” police Colonel Saleh Jaber from the Beiji refinery protection force told Reuters news agency on Wednesday.
State television flashed news of the advance and broadcast footage it said was of Iraqi security forces entering the refinery’s gate.
“In this area, terrorists were stationed to the left and right. If God is willing, Beiji will be the main key to liberating each span of Iraq,” Abdel Wahab al-Saadi, the commander of provincial security operations, told the broadcaster.
US-led air attacks have prevented ISIL, which swept through northern Iraq in June almost unopposed by the
Iraqi army, from making significant further territorial gains for its self-proclaimed caliphate. Al Jazeera