The strategic Baiji oil refinery. AFP photo.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - The Islamic State (ISIS) regained control over the town of Baiji in Iraq’s Salahaddin province after days of fierce fighting in which Iraqi forces suffered heavy losses, security sources said.
"ISIS militants launched a violent attack on Baiji neighborhoods that had been seized by Iraqi forces earlier, and fierce clashes took place in the past two days," said a security source Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"Iraqi forces suffered heavy losses in lives and equipment, as they were forced to pull out of those neighborhoods," he added.
Last month, Iraqi security forces supported by the Shiite militias were able to clear the town from ISIS, after weeks of heavy clashes.
The defeat of the Iraqi security forces in Baiji comes as the Kurdish forces continue their battlefield victories against ISIS in the north of the country.
According to the source, the main roads to the Speicher military base and Baiji refinery are still under Iraqi Army control, with battles raging along the road.
He explained that Iraqi forces are fighting to keep control of the road because it is vital for supplying reinforcements for the Baiji refinery.
The source noted that ISIS also had suffered heavy losses, with at least two prominent leaders, Athir Masha'al Hamad and Wasfa Makhlaf Majul Abu Ubaidi, killed in the fighting.