U.S. providing backup in push to retake Baiji, Anbar

After four months of a deadly stalemate, Iraqi forces now appear on the offensive in the battle for Iraq's largest refinery.
A U.S. soldier stands guard at the Baiji refinery in August 2010. (AYMAN OGHANNA/Iraq Oil Report)

BAGHDAD - The U.S. military is significantly expanding its area of operations in Iraq, providing air support, intelligence, and on-the-ground assistance to Iraqi security forces trying to reassert control over Baiji and Anbar – two areas where they have recently suffered major setbacks.

In Baiji, insurgents led by the so-called Islamic State (IS) organization have used anti-aircraft weapons to shoot down at least two Iraqi helicopters in recent weeks. Pro-government forces guarding the country's largest oil refinery, on the northern outskirts of Baiji, have relied heavily on helicopters both for the provision of supplies and for air support to repel attacks.

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