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Iraqi Militants Capture Two Oil Fields in North, Kurdish Towns

By Kadhim Ajrash and Khalid Al-Ansary
August 03, 2014 6:14 PM EDT 25 Comments
Islamic State militants patrol the roads of Baiji, Iraq, on July 30, 2014.
Source: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Islamic State militants patrol the roads of Baiji, Iraq, on July 30, 2014.

Militants from Islamic State, a breakaway al-Qaeda group, took control of two oil fields and some predominantly Kurdish towns in northern Iraq following clashes, according to the Northern Oil Co.

The Ain Zala and Batma oil fields, which together have an output of 30,000 barrels per day, are under full control of the group, according to a statement by the state-run Northern Oil Co. The Sunni Islamist militants last month occupied the Qayyara oil field north of Baghdad.

Islamic State, which was previously known as Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, has seized territory in northern and western Iraq, taking over oil wells and fighting for control of refineries.

Islamic State fighters continued their advance yesterday, taking over the village of Wana, south of the Mosul dam, according to Hisham al-Brefkani, a member of the provincial council of Nineveh. A retreat by Kurdish fighters from the village was a tactical move to protect the Mosul dam, Al-Brefkani said by phone, denying reports that the reservoir had fallen into the hands of militants.

A day earlier, Islamic State fighters captured the town of Zummar, Northern Oil said. Kurdish forces have withdrawn from the town of Sinjar after clashes, Elias Khodayda, a 49-year-old resident, said by phone.

The militants captured a number of men and “drove them to an unknown destination,” while other residents fled the area, he said.

The U.S. is “actively monitoring the situation” in Sinjar and surrounding areas, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said yesterday in a statement.

The assault by Islamic State “demonstrates once again that this terrorist organization is a dire threat to all Iraqis, the entire region and the international community,” Psaki said.

Robert Beecroft, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, met yesterday with Iraq’s president, Fuad Massum, and a United Nations representative “to discuss a coordinated approach to the humanitarian situation,” she said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kadhim Ajrash in Baghdad at kajrash@bloomberg.net; Khalid Al-Ansary in Baghdad at kalansary@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net Alan Soughley

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