World

Iraqi official: Iraqi forces enter country's biggest refinery after intense clashes with IS

  • Iraqi security troops head to Ramadi on the orders of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to re-enforce troops there, Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, April 18, 2015. Thousands of displaced people form Ramadi city continue to pour to Baghdad, fleeing the ongoing fighting in Anbar provincial capital between Iraqi security forces and fighters from the Islamic State militant group.  (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    Iraqi security troops head to Ramadi on the orders of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to re-enforce troops there, Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, April 18, 2015. Thousands of displaced people form Ramadi city continue to pour to Baghdad, fleeing the ongoing fighting in Anbar provincial capital between Iraqi security forces and fighters from the Islamic State militant group. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)  (The Associated Press)

  • Iraqi security troops head to Ramadi on the orders of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to re-enforce troops there, Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, April 18, 2015. Thousands of displaced people form Ramadi city continue to pour to Baghdad, fleeing the ongoing fighting in Anbar provincial capital between Iraqi security forces and fighters from the Islamic State militant group.  (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    Iraqi security troops head to Ramadi on the orders of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to re-enforce troops there, Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, April 18, 2015. Thousands of displaced people form Ramadi city continue to pour to Baghdad, fleeing the ongoing fighting in Anbar provincial capital between Iraqi security forces and fighters from the Islamic State militant group. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)  (The Associated Press)

A senior Iraqi military official says Iraqi ground forces have secured the perimeter around the country's biggest oil refinery and entered the vast complex amid heavy clashes with Islamic State militants.

Abdel-Wahab al-Saadi, the top military commander in Iraq's Salahuddin province, says ground forces entered the Beiji oil refinery Saturday, days after a number of IS militants carried out a large-scale attack and briefly took over a small part of the complex.

The refinery has remained under government control, but the militants had been surrounding the entire complex preventing access by Iraqi forces.

Iraqi forces, backed by powerful Shiite militias and coalition airstrikes, recaptured Tirkit, capital of Salahuddin, on April 1 and have been gradually pushing their offensive north to secure the rest of the province.