Key Iraq oil refinery 'seized by rebels'

Sunni rebels in Iraq say they have fully captured the country’s main oil refinery at Baiji, north of Baghdad.

The refinery had been under siege for 10 days with the militant offensive being repulsed several times.

The complex supplies a third of Iraq’s refined fuel and the battle has already led to petrol rationing.

Insurgents, led by the group Isis, have overrun a swathe of territory north and west of Baghdad including Iraq’s second-biggest city, Mosul.

They are bearing down on a vital dam near Haditha and have captured all border crossings to Syria and Jordan.

A rebel spokesman said the Baiji refinery, in Salahuddin province, would now be handed over to local tribes to administer.

The spokesman said that the advance towards Baghdad would continue.

The BBC’s Jim Muir in Irbil, northern Iraq, says the capture of the refinery is essential if the rebels are to keep control of the areas they have conquered and to supply Mosul with energy.

Earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry vowed “intense and sustained support” for Iraq after meeting key politicians in the capital, Baghdad. BBC

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