BAIJI, Iraq, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Islamic State militants captured a series of positions across Iraq's Saladin province on Sunday following the second phase of an Iraqi military offensive that began in the province earlier this year.
Xinhua news agency quoted a provincial security source as saying IS forces seized locations west, north and south of Baiji, home to Iraq's largest oil refinery.
The militants captured parts of the town of Seiniyah, as well as an abandoned fertilizer plant and portions of Mak'houl Mountain, located north of Baiji.
IS forces also attacked oilfields west of Tikrit, the provincial capital, and the town of Muskashafah, south of Tikrit, killing a brigadier general and six of his bodyguards.
Iraqi security forces and Iran-trained Shia militias, known as Hashid Shaabi, last month liberated Baiji and the nearby town of Seiniyah from IS militants in what Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called the "second phase" of the liberation of Saladin province. The offensive stalled south of the IS-held town of Shirqat.
Iraqi officials announced the first phase of the operation in March, when security forces, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and the Hashid Shaabi, began assaulting Tikrit.
The coalition managed to capture Tikrit by April, but the Shia militias -- which U.S. officials deny coordinating with -- had to be pulled from the largely Sunni Arab city amid reports of looting and illegal killings.