Iraqi government forces achieved a major feat in the fight against ISIS over the weekend as they managed to drive the extremist militants away from the city of Baiji. The city, known for its oil treasure, is situated in the northern province of Salahuddin.
The Iraqi army took complete control of the area with the help of Popular Mobilization units. The Iraqi government forces and their allied militias are known as Hashd Shaabi. Popular Mobilization forces spokesman Ahmed al-Asadi confirmed the victory to an Arabic-language satellite television network Monday.
Asadi said the Iraqi forces had taken complete control of the main street in the city, which is located around 210 km to the north of the capital Baghdad. It was possible only after dismantling improvised explosives, Press TV reported. Asaib Ahl al-Haq, a pro-government group, announced Monday that it would launch a campaign to throw ISIS militants off Baiji.
Asadi referred to Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, the second-in-command of the Popular Mobilization Units, and announced that a command center would be formed with the liberation of Mosul. The center will consist of Iraqi security personnel, Popular Mobilization Units and some local residents. ISIS militants took control of the Mosul, around 400 km from Baghdad, in June 2014.
There has been violent fighting in the last few days between ISIS and government forces. According to Daiji World, Hashd Shaabi militias managed to repel ISIS attacks in two oilfields in Ajil and Allas.
The Ajil oilfield, though a small one, was a significant source of funding for ISIS forces. The oilfield extracted around 10,000 barrels a day. The oil was transported to areas under ISIS control.
The battle between government forces and ISIS extremists started around midnight and continued until morning. According to a source, 11 ISIS militants as well as five security members were killed in the fighting. There were five soldiers wounded in the battle.
Iraqi forces killed 60 ISIS militants in April. Subsequently, a violent battle started between the militant group and government forces. ISIS militants kept the Baiji refinery for months. The refinery used to produce around 30,000 barrels of refined petroleum every day.