Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
 / Updated 

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Al Qaeda-inspired militants have withdrawn most of their forces from Iraq's largest oil refinery, leaving behind a small group of insurgents to battle government forces, a senior Iraqi security official told NBC News on Wednesday.

Sign up for breaking news alerts from NBC News

The handful of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) fighters who remained inside the Beiji complex were exchanging sporadic fire with government forces following a two-day onslaught by troops and helicopter gunships, the official who spoke on condition of anonymity said. The source denied reports that the refinery - which produces about a third of the country's oil - had ever fallen under the control of ISIS.

In-Depth

- Ben Plesser