Iraq recaptures critical oil refinery town from ISIS, forces say

Teamed up with paramilitary forces, Iraqi government troops on Tuesday drove Islamic State militants out of a key oil refinery town north of Baghdad, a government spokesman said.

The Joint Military Command spokesman, Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, told The Associated Press that the troops imposed "full control" on the town, about 155 miles north of Baghdad. Rasool wouldn't give more details on the fighting and causalities.

State-run TV aired footage of what it said was a residential area in Beiji. Soldiers could be seen waving Iraqi flags from rooftops as thick black smoke billowed into the air. The privately-owned al-Sumaria satellite channel showed troops firing into the air in celebration near demolished buildings. The troops were gathered around a famous bearded militia fighter who refers to himself as Abu Azrael, or the Father of the Angel of Death, saying his catchphrase "illa tahin" - meaning he will crush the IS militants like flour.

The IS group captured Beiji and then parts of a nearby oil refinery - Iraq's largest - during its blitz across the country's north in June 2014. The town and the refinery have been heavily contested since then. Iraq announced that troops had recaptured the entire refinery last week.

Iraqi launched a wide-scale operation last week as the second phase of an operation to drive IS militants out of Iraq's central Salahuddin province. The government troops were backed by paramilitary forces, made up mainly of Shiite militia fighters.

In April, Iraqi troops backed by U.S. airstrikes and Shiite and Sunni militias recaptured Salahuddin's provincial capital, Tikrit, but their efforts have since stalled. Iraqi and U.S. officials have said the extreme summer heat has slowed their progress.