World Bulletin / News Desk
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) rebels have reportedly retreated from Iraq's biggest oil complex, the Baiji refinery, following clashes with Iraqi security forces on Thursday.
Refinery officials said the rebels led by the ISIL group were forced to withdraw from their position in the refinery after the army launched an aerial and ground assault.
The Baiji refinery is essential for meeting Iraq's oil requirements, producing a total of 600,000 barrel oil a day.
Earlier Thursday, up to 300 local and foreign staff were evacuated from the refinery, which had been seized by ISIL, following a brief ceasefire, mediated by tribes from the Salahuddin province of northern Iraq.
The rebels took the facility on Wednesday after a gun battle with Iraqi security forces charged with protecting the oil complex.
ISIL, which already controls parts of Syria, has extended its reach into Iraq since June 10, when it seized Iraq's second-largest city Mosul and soon afterwards took near-complete control of the northern city of Tikrit.
Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ruled for 59 army officers to be referred to court for fleeing their posts last week, during the initial ISIL raid, the prime minsiter's spokesperson said Qasim Ata.
Maliki issued a statement on Tuesday saying three generals -- General Mahdi al-Garawi, his aide General Abdul Rahman al-Handal and chief of staff Brigadier General Hassan Abdul Razzaq Ghazi -- had been dismissed from their posts.
Security sources said clashes broke out between Iraqi army troops and the ISIL-led rebels in the north of Salahuddin on Thursday, killing five police officers.
In addition, five civilians died and four others were wounded in attacks held by the group in the province, said government-controlled Baiji hospital officials.
Iraq has seen a marked increase in sectarian violence between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims in recent months, which the Iraqi government blames on ISIL.Last Mod: 20 Haziran 2014, 09:57