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Iraqi Push to Retake Refinery City Hit by Attack

Source: Reuters 10/19/2014, Location: Middle East

The Islamic State staged a suicide attack on Iraqi soldiers to halt their advance on a key northern city, using a military vehicle to lull the government troops into a false sense of security, officers said.

Iraqi forces are looking to retake Baiji, which is adjacent to the country's largest oil refinery and is controlled by Islamic state.

The operation was launched in the early hours of Saturday, but was snarled when an armored vehicle blew up near the security forces' convoy in a village some 20 km (15 miles) south of Baiji, the officers said.

The blast killed four soldiers and wounded seven.

"The attacker surprised our forces as he was driving a military armored vehicle. We thought it was our vehicle," said an army major participating in the operation.

"We are planning to retake Baiji as soon as possible to secure a key highway and to stop the daily attacks of terrorists on the Baiji refinery," he added.

The government offensive was the latest effort by the Iraqi army to retake ground seized by Islamic State fighters across the north of the country during the summer.

The offensive looks to bypass the Iraqi city of Tikrit, which lies to the south of Baiji and is controlled by Islamic State, and instead to focus on Baiji itself, where Iraqi forces have protected the refinery since June despite being surrounded on all sides.

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