ISIS counter-offensive follows Iraqi army advance

ISIS conducts overnight attacks on Iraq’s northern oil refinery town of Baiji, forcing Iraqi forces and Shia fighters to pull back

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

ISIS launched a series of attacks on the Iraqi refinery town of Baiji on Sunday night. The attacks were carried out by ISIS fighters and suicide car bombs in different parts of the city.

The refinery town has been a battlefront for over a year now as it is home to Iraq’s largest oil facilities. ISIS captured Baiji in June of last year after it progressed through northern Iraq towards Baghdad, the country’s capital.

Control of the town’s neighborhoods has changed hands many times over the course of this year. With latest ISIS offensive authorities say the group is very close to regaining full control of the town as well as the oil refinery both of which could fall within days.

According to military sources, the attacks on Baiji began Saturday night with two suicide car bombings and attacks were followed by fierce clashes that lasted until midnight, causing the Iraqi army and Shia forces to retreat.

According to Iraqi Army Major Mahmoud al Jabouri stationed at Baiji, there is pattern of withdrawals by ISIS militants followed by counter-offensives.

Army officials have also stated that the Iraqi army and Shia forces are preparing for a response to the latest attempts by ISIS to gain full control of the town, as ISIS militants continue to receive reinforcements to help them hold the three neighborhoods they recently captured.

ISIS’ offensive on Baiji came after Iraqi forces launched air strikes killing 18 people in the group’s self-proclaimed “capital” of Ramadi in Anbar province. Witnesses in Ramadi say that those killed were part of a group of people who had gathered to play traditional games after the daily Ramadan fast, and claimed that they were innocents.

ISIS’ attacks on Baiji left 3 people dead and at least 11 wounded after a suicide car bomb went off near a restaurant in the mainly Shia district of Shulaa. The second bombing resulted in the death of two people in Hussainiya, located in the city’s northern outskirts.

No group claimed immediate responsibility for the attacks, however they were similar to ISIS’ previous attacks.

The group has released statements claiming attacks which took place on Saturday evening in Baghdad and Balad Roz and killed 10 people.

TRTWorld and agencies