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MIDEAST-CRISIS/IRAQ
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December 09, 2014
Members of the Iraqi security forces participate in an intensive security deployment at the Baiji oil...
Baiji, Iraq
Members of the Iraqi security forces participate in an intensive security deployment at the Baiji oil...
Members of the Iraqi security forces participate in an intensive security deployment at the Baiji oil refinery, north of Baghdad, December 8, 2014.. Iraq's defence minister was reviewing his army's gains against Islamic State fighters north of Baghdad when his armoured convoy ran into sniper fire on the main north-south highway between Tikrit and Baiji. The convoy's gunners replied with volleys of fire. The drivers did not stop. Obeidi was proving a point by making his first visit to Iraq's biggest oil refinery, where a battle that broke a five month siege has been the main focus of the government's U.S.-backed fightback against Islamic State. That the defence minister could now drive the 30 km (20 mile) desert highway to Baiji from an air base near Tikrit is one of the government's few military achievements since the army collapsed and abandoned most of northern Iraq in June. Government troops and their Shi'ite militia allies finally lifted the siege of the refinery three weeks ago, after special forces troops held out, encircled inside the plant. Picture taken December 8, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmed Saad (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS MILITARY BUSINESS COMMODITIES)
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