BAGHDAD — Iraqi forces regained most of a key oil refinery Saturday that ISIS militants had taken over earlier in the week, according to a senior Iraqi security official.
The official told NBC News that troops from the Iraqi Federal Police and quick reaction forces arrived in the oil refinery city of Baiji, situated about 25 miles north of Tikrit, on Friday night and were able to take control of much of the complex by Saturday. The Iraqi forces killed about 50 militants in the attack and destroyed some of their vehicles, Iraqi sources said.
"We expect to regain full control within a couple of hours," Sabah al-Noamani, a spokesman for Iraq's counterterrorism forces, told Reuters.
Iraqi forces had already taken the refinery back from ISIS forces in November, but the militants took it back again this week by blasting through the security perimeter.
ISIS insurgents were thwarted earlier this month when Iraqi troops and Shi'ite paramilitaries were able to push the militants from swaths of the city of Tikrit — a critical stronghold, given the city's strategic location in Iraq's north.
But ISIS forces had gained ground around Ramadi, about 100 miles to the south of Tikrit, prompting Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to order more troops Saturday to protect the city.
Police Major Khalid al-Fahdawi, who is stationed inside Ramadi, told Reuters that reinforcements were on the way and the city was no longer considered to be in immediate danger of falling.
- Battle for Tikrit: Iraq Hails 'Magnificent Victory' Over ISIS in Saddam's Birthplace
- Iraqi Troops in Center of Tikrit, Prime Minister Says
- Taking Back Tikrit: Iraq Moves to Seize Saddam's Birthplace From ISIS
— NBC News staff, with Reuters