Iraq’s largest oil refinery, 130 miles north of Baghdad, was seized by ISIS rebels today. From the New York Times:
A refinery worker who gave only his first name, Mohammad, reached by telephone, said that the refinery had been attacked at 4 a.m. and that workers had taken refuge in underground bunkers. In the course of the fighting, 17 gas storage tanks were set ablaze, although it was not clear by which side. After taking heavy losses, the troops guarding the facility surrendered and at least 70 were taken prisoner, he said.
Refinery workers were sent home unharmed by the extremists, Mohammad said.
It’s the first refinery to fall to rebels (most of the country’s oil fields and export facilities are located further south), and its output reportedly all goes toward domestic consumption.
For what it’s worth, the Iraqi military is claiming that it not only repelled the attack on the refinery but also took back the northern city of Tal Afar, though neither claim seems to be supported by media reports. (The Times, for example, creditably sources its assertion that the refinery has fallen to “refinery workers, eyewitnesses and an Iraqi army officer who fled the scene.”)