A senior Iraqi military official with the Salahuddin Command Center says Iraqi security forces have gained full control over a contested area south of the country's largest oil refinery.

General Ayad al-Lahabi tells The Associated Press that the military, backed by divisions of the Popular Mobilization Forces and coalition airstrikes, gained control Friday of the towns of al-Malha and al-Mazraah, located 3 kilometers south of the Beiji oil refinery, killing at least 160 militants with the Islamic State group.

Al-Lahabi says security forces are trying to secure two corridors around the refinery itself after the Sunni militants launched a large-scale attack on the complex earlier this week.

Iraqi security forces, also backed by the Popular Mobilization Forces and U.S. airstrikes, recaptured the provincial capital of Tikrit on April 1.