Seventeen people killed in clashed near Baiji refinery
Seventeen people were killed in Iraq on June 15 in clashes between Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants and pro-government forces in a town close to the country’s biggest refinery, a focal point in efforts to counter the ultra-hardline Sunni group.
The refinery beside the town of Baiji has changed hands before, reflecting the Iraqi army’s struggle to hold territory it recaptures after months of clashes.
Fighting on June 15 took place on a road used by ISIL for supply lines leading from Baiji to the nearby town of Siniya to the west.
Twelve militants, two government soldiers and three members of Shi’ite militias that provide vital support for the army were killed, a senior regional security official said.
Siniya is held by ISIL, which controls a third of Iraq, as well as parts of neighboring Syria.
The group, which also holds territory in Libya and has sympathizers in Egypt, highlights the spread of Islamist militancy since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings that toppled veteran autocrats who had repressed hardline groups.