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Troops recapture key town from IS

Published 07/06/2015

The Iraqi flag has been raised in Beiji after troops took back key parts of the town from IS
The Iraqi flag has been raised in Beiji after troops took back key parts of the town from IS

Iraqi troops backed by Shiite militias have recaptured key parts of the northern refinery town of Beiji from Islamic State militants.

The commander of the Interior Ministry's Quick Reaction Forces, Brigadier General Nassir al-Fartousi, told state TV that the Iraqi flag was raised on a local government building in Beiji and that troops were advancing to other areas.

There was no word on the fate of the contested refinery on the town's outskirts.

Beiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad, fell to the extremist IS group during its blitz across northern Iraq nearly a year ago, but parts of the town and nearby refinery have since been retaken by government forces. The town is strategically significant as it lies on the road to IS-held Mosul, Iraq's second largest city.

Iraqi and Kurdish forces have managed to roll back the Islamic State group in many parts of the country with the help of US-led airstrikes, and recaptured the northern city of Tikrit in April. But last month the IS group captured Ramadi, the provincial capital of the western Anbar province, in the extremists' most significant advance since last year.

IS has declared an Islamic caliphate in the territories it controls in Syria and Iraq, and has used oil facilities and smuggling to finance much of its operations.

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