We shall see who’s left standing in a couple of days.
Key refinery near Beiji regained, claims Baghdad
Iraqi government forces claim to have regained “full control” of the Beiji oil refinery, a key fuel installation north of Baghdad. But witnesses say Sunni insurgents remain and fighting is continuing.
The Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said it regained control at Beiji on Thursday, a day after it was stormed by an array of militants who recently seized Mosul city and other parts of northern Iraq.
Beiji is Iraq’s biggest refinery, accounting for more than a quarter of the country’s fuel supplies and lies near the Sunni heartland of Saddam Hussein, the dictator ousted during the US-led invasion in 2003.
Some of Beiji’s storage tanks were set alight Wednesday during clashes that continued sporadically into Thursday.
In televised remarks, Maliki’s security spokesman said government forces were in “full control of the Beiji refinery” amid reports that they had used helicopter gunships.
However in video footage aired by Al-Arabiya television, evacuated workers said government forces were concentrated around the refinery’s control center.
An Iraqi security official quoted by the news agency Associated Press (AP) said insurgents were using a building just outside the refinery to fire inside.
A motorist quoted by AP said militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) had hung black banners on watchtowers at checkpoints around the facility.
The rebel assault also affected global fuel prices, with US gasoline prices reaching the highest level on Thursday since 2008.
Refueling vehicles had also become difficult in Kurdish-controlled northernn Iraq, according to DW correspondent in Kirkuk, Hannah Smith.
US confirms military request from Maliki
The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, confirmed that the US had received a request the Maliki’s government to conduct air strikes to stop the militant advance.
US officials, however, said targets for drone strikes would be hard to distinguish from civilians.