The Baiji oil refinery, Iraq’s largest, once employed 15,800 workers. The last 300 left today during a brief lull in the multi-day battle over its control, with local tribal leaders securing the truce to allow their evacuation.
With them gone, the Baiji fighting quickly picked up pace again, and there is no end in sight, with the most recent indications saying that both the Iraqi military and ISIS hold significant portions of the now-closed refinery.
The loss of Baiji would be a huge blow to Iraqi morale, and a big economic boom to the fledgling ISIS state, as it would allow them to refine their own petrochemicals out of the vast oil fields they control.
It is also the first time Iraq’s military has actually bothered to stay and fight ISIS invaders in awhile, potentially stalling the faction’s growing territorial gains in the region north of Baghdad.