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An official at Iraq’s largest domestic oil refinery says Sunni militants have taken over 75 percent of the facility following clashes with Iraqi security forces.
“The militants have managed to break in to the refinery. Now they are in control of the production units, administration building and four watch towers. This is 75 percent of the refinery,” an official speaking from inside the refinery in Beiji told Reuters on Wednesday.
A state oil official told The Wall Street Journal that two fuel-storage tanks were in flames after hours of fighting before dawn Wednesday, some 155 miles north of the capital, Baghdad. The official said militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targeted the oil refinery with mortars and machine guns.
In response, Iraqi security forces and helicopter gunships bombarded positions of the militants inside the refinery, another state oil official added.
But Iraq’s government denied reports that the facility has been overrun.