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The Battle of Baiji (2014–15) is a battle that took place in Baiji, Iraq, that began in late December 2014.[1] If Iraqi forces are successful in retaking Baiji, it would give Iraqi forces complete control of the highway stretching from Baghdad to Baiji, which would also allow Iraqi forces to use Baiji as a base for launching a future assault on Mosul.[citation needed]

Background

On November 14, it was reported that the Iraqi Army had taken full control of the city, forcing ISIL forces to withdraw.[2]

On 18 November, the anti-terrorism force Mosul Battalion entered Baiji refinery for the first time since June. However, this could not be confirmed independently. If confirmed, it would be a major victory for Iraqi forces. Iraqi State television said that they had entered the gates of the refinery.[3] Meanwhile, it was confirmed that Iraqi forces were in full control of Baiji. Iraqi state television said Baiji's recapture was a "Graveyard for ISIS".[4] Later, the US Department of State congratulated the Iraqi forces for retaking the country's largest oil refinery, confirming the Iraqi victory.[5]

On November 20, An RAF Tornado GR4 attacked three buildings occupied by ISIL militants in support to Iraqi ground forces, which were countering ISIL activity in the vicinity of the Baiji oil refinery.[6]

By 25 November, fighting in the city center continued, with ISIL fighters still being present in four out of 12 of Baiji's neighborhoods. The militants were also continuing to hold positions at the refinery's perimeter.[7]

On December 7, Two RAF Tornado GR4's provided air support for Iraqi ground forces under fire from ISIL terrorists, in the vicinity of Baiji, destroying an ISIL position and then using a Brimstone missile.[8]

Between 13 and 18 December, ISIL recaptured seven neighborhoods, including the central part of the city, after Iraqi government forces retreated, due to a lack of support and ammunition.[9][10]

On 21 December, ISIL forces recaptured the city of Baiji.[11][12] ISIL forces also managed to re-establish a siege of the Baiji Oil Refinery.[13][14]

The battle

Initial assault

On 23 December 2014, Iraqi forces and Shi'ite milita fighters launched an assault on the city of Baiji,[1] after having lost control of the city to ISIL forces only two days earlier.

On 16 January 2015, A patrol of Tornado GR4's, operating near Baiji in support of Iraqi ground forces, attacked three ISIL positions with Paveway IV laser-guided bombs. A fourth position nearby was attacked shortly afterwards.[15]

On February 4, 2015, a pair of Tornado GR4's conducted an armed reconnaissance patrol over Baiji in support of Iraqi ground forces. Two ISIL armoured vehicles were identified in a building and were attacked with two Paveway IV laser-guided bombs, scoring two direct hits.[16]

Renewed ISIL offensive

In early March 2015, ISIL launched a fresh offensive on Baiji, after some Iraqi troops were redeployed to Tikrit, to aid the Iraqi government in retaking that city.[17] However, the Iraqi government planned to send reinforcements to Baiji once the Second Battle of Tikrit had fully concluded.[18]

On 7 April 2015, 60 ISIL militants were killed by Iraqi forces in Baiji.[19]

On 11 April 2015, ISIL launched an assault on the Baiji Oil Refinery, claiming to have seized full control of it, which Iraqi forces denied.[20]

On 13 April 2015, RAF Tornado GR4s provided close air support for Iraqi ground forces by patrolling ahead of the Iraqi troops and successfully attacking four buildings within an ISIL military compound with Paveway IVs.[21]

Iraqi counter-offensive and continuing ISIL assault

On 14 April, hundreds of ISIL reinforcements arrived from Ar-Raqqah, Syria, after staying three days in Mosul.[22] Beginning on 14 April, the US-led Coalition escalated its airstrikes in the region, after a recent ISIL offensive. From 14–15 April, the US-led Coalition conducted 9 airstrikes in and around Baiji, which struck two large and six smaller tactical units, and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL heavy machine gun.[23] From 15–16 April, the US-led Coalition conducted eight airstrikes in and around Baiji, which struck two large and four smaller tactical units, destroyed two ISIL structures, an ISIL mortar system, an ISIL fighting position,a and an ISIL vehicle.[23] From 16–17 April, the US-led Coalition conducted five airstrikes in and around Baiji, which struck five ISIL tactical units, destroyed four ISIL vehicles, three ISIL fighting positions, and an ISIL heavy machine gun.[23]

On 14 April, it was reported that Iraqi General Ayub Khalif was killed by ISIL while defending the Baiji Oil Refinery, along with 9 of his men.[24]

On 17 April, it was reported that ISIL withdrew from most parts of the Baiji Oil Refinery, after suffering high casualties inflicted by entrenched Iraqi Volunteers Forces.[25]

From 19–20 April, the US-led Coalition conducted another eight airstrikes in and around Baiji, which struck four ISIL tactical units, destroyed two ISIL VBIEDS, an ISIL machine gun, an ISIL artillery piece, an ISIL ammo storage facility, and an ISIL vehicle.[23]

On 23 April, it was revealed that ISIL was still inside the Baiji Oil Refinery, after the US and the Iraqi Government had claimed that the refinery had been secured and cleared off ISIL fighters.[26] On the same day, Iraqi federal policemen arrived in Baiji, to reinforce the Iraqi Army positions there.[27]

From 25–26 April, the US-led Coalition conducted 7 airstrikes in and around Bayji, which struck six ISIL tactical units, destroyed three ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL vehicles, an ISIL warehouse, and an ISIL mortar system.[23]

On 27 April, ISIL militants lanched an attack on the Baiji Oil Refinery, destroying three depots and several Iraqi forces.[28] On 28 April, ISIL forces claimed to be in middle of the Baiji Oil Refenery.[29]

On 29 April, Raid al-Jabouri, the Iraqi Governor of the Saladin Governorate, stated that Iraqi forces were ready to launch a counter-offensive the retake the areas around Baiji and Shargat.[30] On the same day, al-Joubouri also stated that large military reinforcements were set to arrive in Baiji, later on the same day.[31]

On 1 May, it was reported that ISIL was controlling of 60%–80% of the Baiji Oil Refinery.[32]

On 2 May, Iraqi forces killed Abu Ibrahim Chechen, the commander of the ISIL forces at the Baiji Oil Refinery.[33]

From 2–4 May, the US-led Coalition conducted 13 airstrikes in and around Baiji, which struck one large and eight small ISIL tactical units, destroying eight ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL buildings, and ISIL command and control facility, two ISIL mortar tubes, an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL VBIED, and an ISIL vehicle.[23]

From 6–7 May, the US-led Coalition conducted 6 airstrikes in and around Baiji, which struck an ISIL large tactical unit, destroying two ISIL fighting positions, four ISIL structures, an ISIL VBIED, and an ISIL vehicle.[23]

On 15 May, it was reported that ISIL fighters had started setting fire to fuel storage containers, in an attempt to obstruct advances by pro-Iraqi government forces. ISIL forces were still embedded deep within the facility, and the Iraqi security forces were reduced to supplying the defenders by air.[34] An RAF Tornado GR4 used a Paveway precision guided bomb to demolish an ISIL-held building near Baiji.[35]

On 17 May, RAF Tornado GR4s were supporting Iraqi army operations in the Baiji area, safely destroying a car-bomb which the terrorists had positioned ahead of the advancing Iraqi troops.[35]

ISIL captures Baiji, Iraqi forces re-enter the city

On 22 May, it was reported that ISIL had managed to capture the city of Baiji. Because of this failure, the US decided to allow Shi'ite militias under the control of the Iraqi Government to join the battle.[36] However, later on the same day, Iraqi reinforcements managed to re-enter the city, and recaptured part of it from ISIL forces. Iraqi forces also managed to recapture the road leading from Baiji to the Baiji Oil Refinery. Additionally, it was reported that parts of the Baiji Oil Refinery were set on fire during the battle.[37]

Iraqi forces capture Baiji city and the oil refinery, ISIL re-enters the city and refinery

On 7 June, Iraqi Security Forces and al-Hashd al-Shaabi militia, with aid from US-led Coalition airstrikes, captured the downtown area of Baiji, including the local government building.[38][39] Small pockets of ISIL fighters were still present in the city,[38] while clashes in the refinery were still continuing.[40]

By 9 June, half of the city was under Iraqi government control.[41]

On 10 June, the US-led Coalition conducted five airstrikes in and around Baiji, which struck four ISIL tactical units, destroying three ISIL vehicles, an ISIL building, and an ISIL VBIED.[23]

On 24 June 2015, it was reported that the city of Baiji had been fully recaptured by Iraqi security forces and Shi'ite militia fighters. However, the Baiji Oil Refinery remained contested.[42][43]

On 29 June 2015, Iraqi forces, supported by Shi'ite militias, reportedly recaptured the Baiji Oil Refinery from ISIL.[44][45] Iraqi forces were also clearing the city of Baiji of IEDs and other explosives left behind by ISIL. On 30 June, it was revealed that a small number of ISIL sleepers were still hiding inside Baiji city and its refinery, ambushing Iraqi fighters and hampering the cleanup process with guerrilla attacks and suicide bombings.[46] ISIL also continued to conduct larger attacks, forcing an Iraqi military and militias retreat from three neighborhoods on 5 July.[47]

On 6 July 2015, ISIL was in control of several parts of Baiji city, with clashes erupting inside of Baiji city.[48][49]

By 6 July, Shia militia was reported to have engaged in clashes with ISIL.[50]

On 7 July 2015, clashes between the Iraqi Security Force and ISIL continued inside of Baiji city.[51]

On 27 July, Iraqi forces killed Khalaf Eidan, the new ISIL emir for Baiji, before he arrived at Baiji from Mosul.[52]

On 29 July, three ISIL suicide bombers attacked a suburb of Baiji and tried to clear the way for other militants, killing 11 Iraqi fighters and wounding 21 others.[53][54]

On 31 July 2015, Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled Ubaidi stated that the city of Baiji was almost completely under the control of Iraqi government forces. He also stated that ISIL only retained control over the Muhandeseen neighborhood, in the eastern part of the city.[54]

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Iraq Weekly Security Report 23 December 2014". EI InsideTrack. http://edinburghint.com/insidetrack/iraq-weekly-security-report-23-december-2014-2-2-2/. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  2. "Iraq troops 'push Islamic State from oil town of Baiji'". 2014-11-14. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-30052714. Retrieved 2014-11-18. 
  3. "Kurds in Kobani seize Islamic State arms cache; Iraq touts progress in Baiji battle". The Globe and Mail. Nov 18, 2014. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/kurds-in-kobani-seize-islamic-state-arms-cache-iraq-touts-progress-in-baiji-battle/article21635253/. 
  4. "Iraq troops reach Baiji oil refinery besieged by IS". BBC. Nov 18, 2014. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-30103392. 
  5. "US hails Iraqi forces on recapture of Baiji refinery". Kuwait News Agency. 2014-11-21. http://www.kuna.net.kw/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=2409812&language=en. Retrieved 2014-11-21. 
  6. "Update: air strikes in Iraq". UK government. 10 March 2015. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/british-forces-air-strikes-in-iraq-monthly-list/raf-air-strikes-in-iraq-november-2014#november-1. 
  7. "Islamic State fighters battle Iraqi forces near Baiji refinery". Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/25/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-baiji-idUSKCN0J91IU20141125. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  8. "Update: air strikes in Iraq". UK government. 10 March 2015. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/british-forces-air-strikes-in-iraq-monthly-list/raf-air-strikes-in-iraq-december-2014. 
  9. "Islamic State recapture parts of northern refinery city Baiji". Reuters UK. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/12/17/uk-mideast-crisis-iraq-baiji-idUKKBN0JV1W420141217. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  10. "Islamic State recapture parts of northern Iraqi refinery city". The Jerusalem Post - JPost.com. http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Islamic-State-recapture-parts-of-northern-Iraqi-refinery-city-384963. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  11. "Iraqi forces suffer losses in Baiji fighting as ISIS regains upper hand". Rudaw Media Network. 2014-12-23. http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/22122014. Retrieved 2014-12-23. 
  12. "IS militants recapture oil refinery town of Iraq's Baiji". Global Times. 2014-12-23. http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/897886.shtml. Retrieved 2014-12-23. 
  13. Avaneesh Pandey (22 December 2014). "ISIS In Iraq: Kurds Recapture Mount Sinjar As Islamic State Group Retakes Baiji Oil Refinery". International Business Times. http://www.ibtimes.com/isis-iraq-kurds-recapture-mount-sinjar-islamic-state-group-retakes-baiji-oil-refinery-1764416. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  14. IANS (22 December 2014). "Iraqi army retake military airbase outside Tal Afar". http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/iraqi-army-retake-military-airbase-outside-tal-afar-114122200044_1.html. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  15. "RAF air strikes in Iraq: January 2015". UK government. 7 April 2015. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/british-forces-air-strikes-in-iraq-monthly-list/raf-air-strikes-in-iraq-january-2015#January-16. 
  16. "Update: air strikes in Iraq". UK government. 10 March 2015. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/british-forces-air-strikes-in-iraq-monthly-list/raf-air-strikes-in-iraq-february-2015#february-1. 
  17. "After Tikrit, Iraqi forces may turn back to Baiji: U.S. official". http://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCAKBN0MT2N620150402. Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  18. "Abuses by Iraqi forces in Tikrit to be investigated". http://m.gulfnews.com/news/region/iraq/abuses-by-iraqi-forces-in-tikrit-to-be-investigated-1.1484906. Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  19. "PressTV". http://www.presstv.ir/Video/2015/04/07/405140/Iraqi-army-braces-for-liberation-of-Salahuddin-from-ISIL. Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  20. Arwa Damon and Hamdi Alkhshali, CNN (12 April 2015). "ISIS targets Iraq's largest oil refinery". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/12/middleeast/isis-assault-iraq-baiji-oil-refinery/. Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  21. "Update: air strikes in Iraq". UK government. 15 April 2015. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/latest-iraq-air-strikes. 
  22. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named hundreds
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 23.5 23.6 23.7 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named OIR airstrike updates
  24. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Iraqi General killed in Baiji
  25. "Iraqi forces retake the Baiji oil refinery from the Islamic State.". http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-19/iraqi-forces-retake-baiji-oil-refinery-from-islamic-state/6403640. Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  26. "Baiji refinery still threatened". Iraq Oil Report. http://www.iraqoilreport.com/news/baiji-refinery-still-threatened-14433/. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  27. Amre Sarhan. "Security forces kill 12 terrorists in different areas of Ramadi". Iraq news, the latest Iraq news. http://www.iraqinews.com/iraq-war/security-forces-kill-12-terrorists-different-areas-ramadi/. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  28. "ISIS attack Baiji refinery and Dujail". Shafaq-news-en. http://www.english.shafaaq.com/security/14137-isis-attack-baiji-refinery-and-dujail.html. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  29. "هجوم الأُباة على المُرتدين في المصفاة 2". Internet Archive. https://archive.org/details/aali2006aa_yahoo_2_20150429. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  30. "Iraq". Rudaw. http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/29042015. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  31. Amre Sarhan. "Large military reinforcements to arrive today in Baiji, says Salahuddin governor". Iraq news, the latest Iraq news. http://www.iraqinews.com/iraq-war/large-military-reinforcements-arrive-today-baiji-says-salahuddin-governor/. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  32. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named ISIL storms Baiji oil refinery
  33. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named ISIL commander killed near Baiji
  34. Hugh Naylor (15 May 2015). "The Islamic State threatens to capture massive Iraqi oil refinery". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the-islamic-state-threatens-to-capture-massive-iraqi-oil-refinery/2015/05/14/07690f36-f744-11e4-a47c-e56f4db884ed_story.html. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  35. 35.0 35.1 "Update: air strikes in Iraq". 29 May 2015. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/update-air-strikes-in-iraq. 
  36. "Iran sends troops to help retake key Iraqi oil refinery from Isis". the Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/23/iran-sends-troops-retake-iraqi-oil-refinery-isis. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  37. "Video Shows Iraq’s Largest Oil Refinery Engulfed in Flames After Battle With the Islamic State". VICE News. https://news.vice.com/article/video-shows-iraqs-largest-oil-refinery-engulfed-in-flames-after-battle-with-the-islamic-state. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  38. 38.0 38.1 Hamdi Alkhshali, CNN (7 June 2015). "Officials: Iraqi forces in control of Baiji city". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/07/middleeast/iraq-forces-baiji/. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  39. Iraq: Troops Advance Against IS in Key Refinery Town
  40. "Iraqi Forces Advance in Baiji". VOA. http://m.voanews.com/a/iraq-troops-advance-against-is-in-key-refinery-townb/2810889.html. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  41. Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent (9 June 2015). "U.S.: Only half of Baiji in Iraqi hands". CNN. http://edition.cnn.com/2015/06/09/middleeast/iraq-forces-baiji/index.html. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  42. "Tasnim News Agency - Iraqi Forces Cleanse Baiji of ISIL Terrorists". http://www.tasnimnews.com/english/Home/Single/781430. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  43. "Central gov’t claims to retake Baiji from ISIS". Rudaw. http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/240620152. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  44. Sounak Mukhopadhyay (29 June 2015). "Iraqi Government Forces Take Control Of Baiji Oil Refinery". International Business Times. http://www.ibtimes.com/iraqi-government-forces-take-control-baiji-oil-refinery-1988773. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  45. "PressTV-Iraqi forces liberate key area in Anbar". http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/06/30/418179/Iraq-Anbar-ISIL-Jebbeh-Hit-Baiji. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  46. "Video footage shows scores of ISIS bodies in Baiji". Rudaw. http://rudaw.net/NewsDetails.aspx?pageid=140308. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  47. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named economictimes.indiatimes.com
  48. Erol Ersoy. "Daesh siezes parts of Iraq’s Baiji: Army source". Breaking News Updates. http://news.videonews.us/daesh-siezes-parts-of-iraqs-baiji-army-source-0627412.html. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  49. "Clashes resume in Baiji after 'great victory'". Rudaw. http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/060720152. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  50. Edmondo Burr. "Shia Fighters Battle ISIS In Iraq’s Oil Refinery Town Of Baiji [VIDEO"]. Your News Wire. http://yournewswire.com/shia-fighters-battle-isis-in-iraqs-oil-refinery-town-of-baiji-video/. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  51. "PressTV - Baiji mop-up operation goes on". http://www.presstv.ir/Video/2015/07/07/419242/Iraq-ISIS-Terrorism-. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  52. Al-Hashed al-Sha’bi militia announces killing of new ISIS-appointed Wali of Baiji before his arrival
  53. Suicide Bombers Ignite Battles in Ramadi and Baiji; 72 Killed across Iraq
  54. 54.0 54.1 http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/310720151

External links

Coordinates: 34°56′00″N 43°29′00″E / 34.9333°N 43.4833°E / 34.9333; 43.4833

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