The Islamic State jihadist group launched a fresh offensive against Iraq’s largest refinery, where a military official says security forces are facing one of their toughest battles.
The IS launched “a fierce attack at dawn and clashes are ongoing,” an army major general says on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the press.
The country’s largest refinery is located near the city of Baiji, around 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of Baghdad.
Following a victory against jihadist fighters in Tikrit, government and allied forces have vowed to continue working their way north. Control of the Baiji area is seen as key step toward the reconquest of the main IS hub of Mosul.
“The battle for Baiji refinery is a real test for the Iraqi forces and it’s one of the most complicated battles we have,” the major general says.