Government Still Holds Baiji Refinery

By John Lee.

It has been the site of a dramatic siege since the June offensive of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) which seized large swathes of northern Iraq.

Baiji refinery was vital for refined fuel products for much of the north of the country, and initially the Iraqi army unit assigned to defend the site fled in the face of the militant onslaught.

In that shocking first week of the ISIL offensive, Iraqi regular soldiers and elite Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) at the refinery argued about what to do next as ISIL surrounded the facility.

Iraqi soldiers said that without enough food or water it was hopeless trying to hold ground.

The regular troops pulled out, leaving less than 100 Iraqi Special Forces to hold the facility against overwhelming odds. But the ISOF succeeded and were able to be gradually re-supplied by air.

Now this re-supply and reinforcement appears to have paid off, and Iraqi forces appear now to be firmly in control, defeating one ISIL assault on Saturday.

The news will give hope to many Iraqis that their armed forces are no longer retreating in the face of the ISIL advance, but are gaining confidence and holding ground.

(Source: BBC)

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