Iraqis slowly close in on huge ISIS-held refinery - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Iraqis slowly close in on huge ISIS-held refinery

Iraqi forces have to be careful in taking back a refinery because ISIS could set it ablaze. (Source: CNN) Iraqi forces have to be careful in taking back a refinery because ISIS could set it ablaze. (Source: CNN)
BAIJI, IRAQ (CNN) - To the north in Salaheddin Province, Iraqi forces are battling ISIS at a very delicate place: The Baiji oil refinery.

It's Iraq's largest, and it is critically important.

The Iraqis are being extra careful to ensure the oil refinery isn't destroyed in the fight to save it.

Just a taste of how apocalyptic it could get, at the vital Baiji oil refinery, already choking on smoke.

Part of this huge complex is still held by ISIS.

Shia fighters filmed the scene on Tuesday.

The months-long fight slowed by fears of the ecological chaos ISIS could wreak if they scorch and burn as they retreat.

Iraqi special forces showed the setting on the front line.

Defending the ruins of a house that a coalition airstrike pushed ISIS out of.

The fighters are from the elite Golden Division.

Their Ramadi colleagues part of the troops the U.S. said lacked the will to fight.

A line of buildings nearby is ISIS militants'  closest position and during a thick sandstorm they used the cover of it to advance within 20 meters.

When the sandstorm subsided, suddenly a firefight began.

It's not know why they started shooting that day, what they may have seen.

ISIS are few in number at the refinery Iraqis say, but willing to die, and have a sniper nearby.

Or maybe they more want to show Iraqis - and even Washington - they very much do want to fight.

"It's not logical and wrong," Capt. Alaa of the ICTS Golden Division says of American criticism. "Because anywhere - in Ramadi, in Mosul, or Baiji Salaheddin - anywhere duty calls we fight."

Their gunfire grows, and usually it's mortars that ISIS fires back.

So a pullout is necessary.

More ammunition - some American - is arriving at the base, but the fight will be a slow encirclement, it is said.

The reason we want to surround them, says commander Maj. Gen. Jamal Al-Jabouri, is because we must clean up the area properly with specialists because it has fuel, but also booby traps.

Cleansing of ISIS a vital part of Baghdad's new plan for Ramadi, but a slow grind, mindful that Iraq needs something left to live off, if ISIS ever leaves.

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