World Bulletin / News Desk
Iraqi forces backed by U.S.-led coalition air strikes have opened supply lines into Baiji town and its nearby oil refinery, making progress at last against ISIL in a seesaw battle that has gone on for months, the Pentagon said on Monday.
Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Defense Department spokesman, said the Pentagon was not ready to declare Baiji refinery, the country's biggest, or the town "liberated," but progress was being made.
"In Baiji (town), the progress is more notable," Warren said. "Friendly forces have begun moving into the town ... and are methodically beginning to root out the enemy."
At the refinery, Iraqi troops have broken through to a contingent of Iraqi troops dug in at the northwest corner of the facility for several months and were able to deliver equipment and personnel to the men on the ground.
There was no single factor that had allowed the Iraqi forces to advance in the town and refinery, located at a strategic crossroads north of Tikrit on the main Baghdad-Mosul highway.
"This was a methodical and often times grinding movement from the south to the north," Warren said. "It took the friendly forces several weeks to be able to break through" an ISIL defensive line.
The Iraqi force is comprised of a mix of conventional security forces and the so-called Popular Mobilization Forces.
"We don't know exactly who is firing those weapons," he said, noting it could be Iraqis or Iraqis with Iranian advisers.
Coalition air power has been supporting the bid to retake Baiji.
"Our air power we believe has been effective," he said. "You've seen strikes in and around the Baiji oil refinery and Baiji virtually every day," primarily targeting ISIL tactical units in the open or defensive positions.Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Haziran 2015, 14:58