Battle of Baiji (2014)
The Battle of Baiji (October–December 2014) was a battle that took place in Baiji, Iraq. In mid-November 2014, Iraqi forces retook the city of Baiji, and re-entered the Baiji Oil Refinery. However, clashes continued in the region, and on 21 December 2014, ISIL forces captured Baiji and put the Baiji Oil Refinery under siege once again.
|Battle of Baiji (October–December 2014)|
|Part of Iraq Civil War (2014–present) and|
the Military intervention against ISIL and
the Salahuddin campaign (2014–15)
Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq
|Commanders and leaders|
(ISIL Governor of the Saladin Governorate)
(Senior ISIL commander)
(Senior ISIL commander)
|Casualties and losses|
|197+ killed and 122 wounded|
On 11 June 2014, ISIL insurgents advanced into Baiji, seizing the main court house and police station and setting them on fire. The militants, who were travelling in a group of around 60 vehicles, also took control of the Baiji prison and freed all the inmates within. Local residents told members of the media that ISIL sent a group of local tribal chiefs ahead of them to convince the 250 guards at the oil plant to withdraw, while soldiers and police had been warned to leave as well. Later in the day, militants reportedly retreated from Baiji either due to persuasion from local tribal leaders or due to reinforcements from the Iraqi Army's Fourth Armored Division arriving in the city. However, the next day it was confirmed ISIL was still in control of the town, except the refinery which was surrounded.
On 18 June, ISIL attacked the refinery with mortars and machine guns. An official from inside the refinery stated the militants had captured 75 percent of the facility, while a military spokesman claimed the attack had been repelled with 40 insurgents being killed.
On 19 June, Iraqi government forces claimed to have regained full control of the Baiji oil refinery, after heavy fighting that left 100 militants dead. An Iraqi witness who drove past the Baiji refinery told the Associated Press that ISIL had hung their banners from the watch towers and created checkpoints surrounding the facility, despite government claims of control.
Advance into the city and to the refinery
On 31 October, the Iraqi forces entered the town and captured two neighborhoods before their operations were halted due to a triple ISIL suicide-attack, followed by a ground assault, on the Army headquarters at the Tikrit University further south.
On 4 November, two British Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 aircraft flying in support of Iraqi ground forces attacked and destroyed an Islamic State pickup truck using a Brimstone missile.
On 7 November, police Major General Faisal Ahmed was killed by a suicide truck-bomber in Baiji. Two days later, Iraqi forces took control of parts of the city. Using helicopters to attack the militants, they entered the city from the south and the west, and took over the city center and the al-Tamim neighbourhood. This left ISIL forces stranded between the city and the refinery, as Iraqi forces advanced slowly due to car-bomb attacks on the road. It was reported that Iraqi forces had control of 40% of the city center. Many residents said that there were non-stop clashes in the area.
On 10 November 10, a British MQ-9 Reaper identified and attacked a group of ISIL militants which had been laying improvised explosive devices in the area. A single Hellfire air-to-surface missile was used to conduct the attack.
On 14 November, it was reported that the Army had taken full control of the city, forcing ISIL forces to withdraw, with their next target being the oil refinery. The next day, Iraqi forces reached the facility's gates, breaking the ISIL siege of the refinery. Three days later, state TV aired footage of soldiers entering the Baiji refinery for the first time in months. An Iraqi reporter said that the security forces had "made the refinery a graveyard" for ISIL. Later, the US Department of State congratulated the Iraqi forces for retaking the country's largest oil refinery.
Fighting continues and ISIL counterattack
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.
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. On 21 December, the ISIL jihadists recaptured the city and re-established a siege of the oil refinery, as Iraqi security forces continued to defend the main roads towards the Speicher military base and the Baiji Oil Refinery.
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