The U.S. conducted 26 airstrikes in the vicinity of a major oil refinery in Iraq in an effort to support Iraqi forces who have lost ground at the refinery to ISIS fighters, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said.
On Wednesday, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren acknowledged that ISIS militants had taken “some” of the refinery, and that it was difficult to know whether Iraqi Security Forces would be able to hold off the ISIS fighters.
Dempsey said that Bayji is significant because of its role in Iraqi oil infrastructure as well as its geographical location. Because the city of Bayji sits near the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, it is a geographically significant point in ISIS’ attempt to take those cities. Dempsey also noted that it is crucial to Iraq’s oil infrastructure, making it “significant economically.”
“The Iraqis are…under pressure there,” Dempsey said Thursday, “and have lost some control of the perimeter and some of the road network that leads to it through the emplacement of especially IEDs.”