Islamic State kills five policemen near Baiji refinery
A view is seen of Baiji oil refinery, north of Baghdad

BAGHDAD: Islamic State has killed five policemen in a town near Iraq’s biggest refinery, in an attack that may help ease pressure on some of its fighters trapped in the strategically important facility, a security official said on Wednesday.

The official in a regional security command centre said the insurgents mounted the operation at Tal Albu Jarad village as part of a battle for control of Baiji refinery, which has changed hands several times.

After receiving reinforcements, Islamic State militants recaptured three neighbourhoods in the town of Baiji near the refinery, but fresh clashes have erupted there, the security official said.

Iraq’s U.S.-backed government is focused on two key areas in its bid to loosen the grip of Islamic State, which controls a third of major oil producer Iraq and large parts of neighbouring Syria.

As well as in the war of attrition at Baiji in the north, Iraqi government forces are hoping to oust Islamic State in Anbar, a vast western province mostly held by the insurgents.

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