Reinforcements were rushed to Iraq’s key Beiji refinery amid heavy fighting with Islamic State militants who have been trying to capture the facility for months, Iraqi officials said Tuesday.
But Brig. Gen. Saad Maan, an Interior Ministry spokesman, denied that the extremists had taken over major parts of the refinery, the country’s largest, as some Iraqi media reported.
Aside from its commercial significance, Beiji is on the road to Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and the center of the Islamic State group’s power in Iraq. If Iraqi forces hope to retake Mosul, they must secure Beiji.
Ammar Hikmat, the deputy governor for Salahuddin province, where the refinery is located, told The Associated Press that the troops holding the refinery have been battered since Monday by a wave of suicide bombings.