Iraq’s PM stresses defence of refinery town as suicide attack kills 13 soldiers, militiamen

Winning the battle for control of an oil refinery town north of Baghdad is a key step toward defeating the Islamic State group, Iraq’s prime minister said in remarks aired Tuesday, hours before a suicide attack killed 13 soldiers and allied militiamen in the western Anbar province.

BAGHDAD — Winning the battle for control of an oil refinery town north of Baghdad is a key step toward defeating the Islamic State group, Iraq’s prime minister said in remarks aired Tuesday, hours before a suicide attack killed 13 soldiers and allied militiamen in the western Anbar province.

“Victory at Beiji is a crucial step toward ending Daesh’s presence in Iraq,” Haider al-Abadi told military and militia commanders during a visit to the area the day before, using an Arabic acronym for the IS group.

The military retook the town of Beiji from the extremists in November, but government forces and allied Shiite militiamen there have come under mounting pressure in recent weeks. Militants now control up to half of the town and oil refinery to the north, a top commander told The Associated Press.

Al-Abadi said the extremist group, which controls large swaths of territory in western and northern Iraq, is throwing significant resources into the battle for Beiji.

“Daesh wants to punch a hole there so our situation, not just in Beiji, but in the entire area, becomes untenable. The collapse (of Iraqi forces) that the enemy wanted did not happen,” he said in remarks aired by state television. “Beiji has become a key front for the defence of Samarra, Salahuddin (province) and even Baghdad.”

Samarra is home to an important Shiite shrine that was bombed by suspected Sunni extremists in 2006, triggering widespread sectarian violence that claimed tens of thousands of lives.

The oil refinery in Beiji, 250 kilometres (155 miles) north of Baghdad, has not operated since the IS seized the town as part of its blitz across much of northern and western Iraq in the summer of 2014. There are no residents left in Beiji, which has suffered massive destruction over the past 14 months. However, control of Beiji gives government forces a key foothold for any future campaign to take back Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.

Elsewhere in Iraq, a suicide bomber in an explosives-laden army vehicle drove into a group of soldiers and Sunni militiamen southeast of the IS-held city of Ramadi, the provincial capital of the vast Anbar province west of Baghdad, killing 13 and injuring seven, according to security officials. Tuesday’s attack came four days after up to 50 soldiers were killed in two separate ambushes, also near Ramadi.

In Baghdad, an army helicopter pilot was killed Monday in the upscale al-Mansour neighbourhood by an explosive device attached to his car, according to security and hospital officials. The officials and IS, which claimed the attack, identified him as Col. Ahmed Zarzour.

On Tuesday, a major in the Interior Ministry’s intelligence agency was killed in a similar attack in northern Baghdad, according to the officials. It was not immediately clear who killed him.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Just Posted

Red Deer woman wins $1 million in lottery

A Red Deer woman spent $5 on a lottery ticket and became… Continue reading

Taboo Naughty but Nice Sex Show in Red Deer this weekend

The event is at Westerner Park Friday to Sunday

Blackfalds closes road because of spring thaw

Broadway Avenue from Aspen Lakes Boulevard to Township Road 40-0 to be closed on Monday

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

MELFORT, Sask. — A truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos… Continue reading

WATCH: Fashion show highlights Cree designers

The fashion show was part of a Samson Cree Nation conference on MMIW

Puddle splashing: A rite of spring

Is there anything more fun than driving through water-filled potholes in the… Continue reading

Home renovator Mike Holmes oversees reno for paralyzed Humboldt Broncos player

AIRDRIE, Alta. — One of Canada’s most recognizable home renovators has acted… Continue reading

The endless war against invasive species

Group looks to protect native ecological environments in Alberta

WATCH: Fashion show highlights Cree designers

The fashion show was part of a Samson Cree Nation conference on MMIW

Flyers, Blackhawks, Sabres and Lightning to Europe in ‘19-20

Jakub Voracek was psyched at the mere suggestion the Philadelphia Flyers might… Continue reading

Danish receiver Nielsen looking to defy the odds again, this time at CFL combine

TORONTO — He’s coming to the CFL’s national combine as a definite… Continue reading

Mom with kids on YouTube channel suspected of child abuse

MARICOPA, Ariz. — A woman who operated a popular YouTube channel featuring… Continue reading

Richie Mehta’s ‘Delhi Crime’ series, about 2012 rape case, hits Netflix

A drama series made by Indo-Canadian filmmaker Richie Mehta and based on… Continue reading

Most Read