The U.S. military said on May 6 that Iraq's largest oil refinery is under a growing threat from Islamic State militants, who have made headway inside the facility.
A Pentagon spokesman said U.S.-led coalition warplanes have been carrying out air strikes against the IS group around the Baiji refinery but it was unclear if Iraqi security forces would manage to hold on to the facility 200 kilometers north of Baghdad.
"The enemy has entered the Baiji refinery. They do control parts of it," Colonel Steven Warren told reporters.
"It's been a tough, fluid fight," Warren told a news briefing, adding that "right now it's flowing in the wrong direction."
Senior American officers have described securing Baiji town and the nearby refinery as a key step on the way to an eventual offensive to seize back control of the strategic city of Mosul in northern Iraq.