World

Iraqi security forces recapture 2 towns from Islamic State near country's largest refinery

  • FILE - in this Sunday, Dec. 1, 2002 file photo, Iraqi Vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri salutes during a ceremony at the Martyrs Monument in Baghdad, Iraq. Salahuddin province Gov. Raed al-Jabouri says soldiers and allied Shiite militiamen killed al-Douri early Friday, April 17, 2015 in an operation east of the city of Tikrit. A graphic photo issued by the government purports to be of al-Douri's corpse, but DNA tests are still pending. (AP Photo/Jassim Mohammed, File)

    FILE - in this Sunday, Dec. 1, 2002 file photo, Iraqi Vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri salutes during a ceremony at the Martyrs Monument in Baghdad, Iraq. Salahuddin province Gov. Raed al-Jabouri says soldiers and allied Shiite militiamen killed al-Douri early Friday, April 17, 2015 in an operation east of the city of Tikrit. A graphic photo issued by the government purports to be of al-Douri's corpse, but DNA tests are still pending. (AP Photo/Jassim Mohammed, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this photo provided by the U.S. Army on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2006, the most wanted Iraqi fugitive, former Saddam Hussein deputy Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri , is pictured on the deck of cards put out by the U.S. military to help capture most wanted officials of Saddam Hussein's regime. Salahuddin province Gov. Raed al-Jabouri says soldiers and allied Shiite militiamen killed al-Douri early Friday, April 17, 2015 in an operation east of the city of Tikrit. A graphic photo issued by the government purports to be of al-Douri's corpse, but DNA tests are still pending. (U.S. Army via AP)

    FILE - In this photo provided by the U.S. Army on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2006, the most wanted Iraqi fugitive, former Saddam Hussein deputy Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri , is pictured on the deck of cards put out by the U.S. military to help capture most wanted officials of Saddam Hussein's regime. Salahuddin province Gov. Raed al-Jabouri says soldiers and allied Shiite militiamen killed al-Douri early Friday, April 17, 2015 in an operation east of the city of Tikrit. A graphic photo issued by the government purports to be of al-Douri's corpse, but DNA tests are still pending. (U.S. Army via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Emergency workers gather at the scene of a car bomb in northern city of Irbil, Iraq, Friday, April 17, 2015. A car bomb exploded outside the U.S. Consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomy zone. There was no immediate word on casualties. A U.S. official said no consulate personnel or guards were killed or injured in Friday's blast. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

    Emergency workers gather at the scene of a car bomb in northern city of Irbil, Iraq, Friday, April 17, 2015. A car bomb exploded outside the U.S. Consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomy zone. There was no immediate word on casualties. A U.S. official said no consulate personnel or guards were killed or injured in Friday's blast. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)  (The Associated Press)

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.