Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Iraqi army has ousted the Islamic State militants from Baiji, a very important center foroil extraction halfway between Baghdad and Mosul. The liberation and control of the area are is a breakthrough in the conflict that pits the government against the Islamic terrorists. It also wipes out a major source of income for the fundamentalists, who smuggle crude oil thus circumventing international economic sanctions.
The announcement of the liberation of Baiji was
made by General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi on Iraqi national television. There is
still fighting around the refinery - the largest in the country, which alone
accounts for a quarter of domestic oil production - but the Islamists are retreating.
The Islamic State took control of the area in June 2014, during the advance into
northern Iraq that led to the fall of Mosul and the flight of Christians and other
The military operation took place under a massive aerial bombardment. Some officials confirmed the use of huge megaphones to warn about 200 thousand residents of impending danger. According to some experts, if the area is completely freed then it would cut off Islamic State supply lines to Tikrit, which is still occupied.