BAGHDAD (AP) — The Iraqi government still controls the country's largest oil refinery. That word comes both from a top Iraqi security official and one of the militants fighting to capture the facility.
But a witness says the Sunni militants have hung their black banners from watchtowers at the refinery, about 155 miles north of Baghdad. The witness also says militants are manning checkpoints around it.
The Iraqi security official says as many as four helicopter gunships have been deployed over the facility since daybreak. One of the militants says had it not been for those gunships, the insurgents would have captured the refinery.
The army officer in charge of protecting the refinery told state-run TV that his forces have killed nearly 100 militants since Tuesday.
Iraq has asked the U.S. for airstrikes targeting the militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, who have taken large areas of northern Iraq. President Barack Obama hasn't ruled that out, but officials say intelligence agencies haven't been able to identify clear targets on the ground.
155-c-17-(Hamza Hendawi (HAHM'-zah hehn-DAH'-wee), AP correspondent)-"the large tanks"-AP correspondent Hamza Hendawi reports that Sunni militants are hanging their black banners at Iraq's largest oil refinery, suggesting that at least part of the vital facility had fallen to the insurgents. (19 Jun 2014)
<<CUT *155 (06/19/14)££ 00:17 "the large tanks"
162-a-15-(Michael Green, spokesman, AAA, in AP interview)-"situation under control"-Michael Green of AAA says the Iraqi oil refinery threatened by insurgents has no real impact on U.S. oil prices, but is causing concern anyway. (19 Jun 2014)
<<CUT *162 (06/19/14)££ 00:15 "situation under control"
157-c-11-(Hamza Hendawi (HAHM'-zah hehn-DAH'-wee), AP correspondent)-"at the refinery"-AP correspondent Hamza Hendawi reports an Iraqi source says the insurgents have taken over a building just outside the refinery and are using it to attack government forces. (19 Jun 2014)
<<CUT *157 (06/19/14)££ 00:11 "at the refinery"
APPHOTO XKK103: Iraqi men crowd a truck to join the Iraqi army at the main recruiting center in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, June 19, 2014, after authorities urged Iraqis to help battle insurgents. he campaign by the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State militants has raised the specter of the sectarian warfare that nearly tore the country apart in 2006 and 2007, with the popular mobilization to fight the insurgents taking an increasingly sectarian slant, particularly after Iraq's top Shiite cleric made a call to arms on Friday. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim) (19 Jun 2014)
<<APPHOTO XKK103 (06/19/14)££