As wellheads burn, Iraqi forces retake Qayarah air base

The Islamic State group's fledgling oil sector in Iraq has been severed by the Iraqi military victory at the Qayarah air base south of Mosul.
As wellheads burn, Iraqi forces retake Qayarah air base
Well No. 74 burns in the Qayarah oil field following an April 5, 2013, attack on the field. (STAFF/Iraq Oil Report)

QAYARAH - Under black plumes from burning oil wells, Iraqi security forces advancing from the south retook an air base 65 kilometers south of Mosul Saturday, securing a key staging post for an eventual assault on Iraq’s second largest city and the largest holdout of the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq.

American and Iraqi air strikes on Qayarah and surrounding villages have drastically increased over the past six weeks, at the same time ground and air forces liberated Fallujah, putting multi-front pressure on the IS group as it lost territory in Iraq, including its largest remaining oil asset – set ablaze in a failed attempt to hamper the visibility of bombers – and a strategic battlefield air base.

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