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Islamic State driven from Baiji, Iraqi oil town

An Iraqi general noted the town and its massive refinery have been liberated.

By Ed Adamczyk

BAIJI, Iraq, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Iraqi troops have retaken the oil refinery town of Baiji from Islamic State militants who seized the strategic town in June.

Although there remain reports of heavy combat in the area, Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi appeared on Iraqi state television Friday and reported the town, 130 miles north of Baghdad, "had been completely liberated." Two Iraqi security officials told Al Jazeera government troops and local militias recaptured the town and its massive refinery, adding the army used loudspeakers to warn residents to stay indoors while roadside bombs and booby-trapped houses were cleared.

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About 200,000 people reside in Baiji, and the refinery is responsible for about one-quarter of Iraq's oil production. Regaining Baiji gives the Iraqi army control of a strategic road from the town to the refinery which IS uses as a supply line to Tikrit, a city IS still occupies.

Baiji is on a main road linking Baghdad and Mosul, a city also under IS occupation.

IS seized Baiji in June during a lightning raid across Iraq, and its loss is a serious setback. Its months-long advance on the Syrian town of Kobane has also been stalled by airstrikes of a U.S.-led coalition.

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