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Militants fly black flags over Iraq refinery

IRAQ-UNREST-KIRKUK

BY SAMEER N. YACOUB
ASSOCIATED PRESS

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Sunni militants have hung their black banners on watch towers at Iraq's largest oil refinery, a witness said Thursday, suggesting the vital facility had fallen to the insurgents holding vast territories across the country's north. A top Iraqi security official, however, said the government still holds the facility.

The Iraqi witness who drove past the Beiji refinery, some 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Baghdad, said militants also manned checkpoints around it. He said a huge fire in one of its tankers was raging at the time.

The witness spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared reprisals.

The security official in Baghdad said the government force protecting the refinery was still inside Thursday and that they were in regular contact with officials in Baghdad. He said helicopter gunships were flying over the facility to stop any advance by the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant inside the refinery.

He also said the militants took over a building just outside the refinery and were using it to fire at the government force.

The official also spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.

The Beiji refinery accounts for a little more than a quarter of the country's entire refining capacity - all of which goes toward domestic consumption for things like gasoline, cooking oil and fuel for power stations. Any lengthy outage at Beiji risks long lines at the gas pump and electricity shortages, adding to the chaos already facing Iraq.

The campaign by the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State militants has raised the specter of the sectarian warfare that nearly tore the country apart in 2006 and 2007, with the popular mobilization to fight the insurgents taking an increasingly sectarian slant, particularly after Iraq's top Shiite cleric made a call to arms on Friday.

The Islamic State has vowed to march to Baghdad and the Shiite holy cities of Karbala and Najaf, home to some of the sect's most revered shrines, in the worst threat to Iraq's stability since U.S. troops left in late 2011. The militants also have tried to capture Samarra, a city north of Baghdad and home to another major Shiite shrine.

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about ourPRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

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wbearl June 19 2014 at 7:18 AM

Here is the change to prove oil isn't our driving factor. Blow the refinery out of existence, take away the Rebels new found source of income.

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rpmlaredo June 19 2014 at 8:33 AM

I'd carpet bomb that whole sand box.

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patbear246 June 19 2014 at 8:55 AM

The President didn't lie to us when he told us "Al-Quida is on the run." He just didn't tell us which direction they were running.

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sue.she June 19 2014 at 7:23 AM

Okay...so now that these tribal groups don't fight over water wells...they fight over oil wells. The weird thing is that we get all excited and upset because we don't even buy their oil!!!

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2 replies
burton99x sue.she June 19 2014 at 8:33 AM

not according to the libs...we spilt blood to secure that oil for ourselves.....that we don't buy...wait what

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Bob sue.she June 19 2014 at 8:41 AM

I believe China has the largest contract with Iraq for oil. So, let China go in and waste some of their soldiers blood.

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1 reply
petpetdon Bob June 19 2014 at 9:05 AM

China wouldn't screw around with these sand fleas. They would bomb them out of existence.

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skerpie June 19 2014 at 8:28 AM

This is, like the CRISIS IN SOUTH SUDAN, another excuse to jack up the cost of the commodity called oil. I think the commodity pricing is a negative inducement to install the Keystone Pipeline.
I say no to that. BECAUSE who wants that kind of crap going thru the water supply of millions of people? And if the Keystone does get made, guess what? Oil drops for a psychological episode and then another CRISIS puts it back on the high road.
As far as this refinery goes . . . wreck the smallest part of it that shuts the whole works down. Maybe a computer, a master valve, a Doofus switch. THere is no reason for the carpet bombing as happened at refineries in Romania in WWII.

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2 replies
Bob skerpie June 19 2014 at 8:44 AM

So, North Dakota is producing a million barrels of oil a day. How is this getting transported?

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THE GREAT ONE skerpie June 19 2014 at 9:24 AM

Use your brain, the pipeline is not in the water supply. If it did leak the oli would be cleaned up no problem, any leak is not a direct line to the water in the ground and it would take years for oil to get into it. By the way there is oil in the ground from nature already in the water

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meanstr June 19 2014 at 8:36 AM

Sunni militants Not calling it an Al-Qaida advance now .This is Suadi Arabia at work taking over another country for Sunii Law and the Government of the United States will not stop it.But there is a good point to this It shows how a thousand or so people can try to take over a country when the Cicilians have no way of fighting back Thats right it would take a real army with tankls planes the whole works to attack the United States because if they came in Pickups every other house would be killing them as they drove by.Lets keep our Guns and keep the United Nations away.

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1 reply
dan meanstr June 19 2014 at 9:11 AM

C-, terrible spelling, sentence structure and thesis. Incorrect facts and obvious paranoid delusions. See me after class.

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Tommy Peters June 19 2014 at 8:43 AM

I guess the real reason WHY we are in Iraq is coming to the surface. Democracy? No. Fighting terrorism? No. Helping someone who is supposed to be our friend? No. We went there to take their oil and if it were ever allowed to investigate who was behind the invasions heads would roll. It goes right to the top and crosses religious and ethnic lines. We ARE the problem and killing for democracy is right up there with killing for Christ.

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louierey June 19 2014 at 10:23 AM

Terrific! Hey, Obamanation, how much is my gas going to cost now?

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1 reply
jaguare70 louierey June 19 2014 at 11:59 AM

Nothing like the 2 trillion in tax payor dollars Bush and the Neocons raked up invading Iraq. Have fun paying that back?

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