Iraqi military forces, along with some key Shi’ite militias, are building up forces in and around the central Iraqi town of Baiji, with an eye on an offensive against the Baiji Refinery, the largest in the nation.
The refinery’s territory is by and large controlled by ISIS for months, though the small control house has remained under military control, meaning the refinery is effectively shut down as “contested” territory.
The loss of the refinery has been a major economic blow to Iraq since June, though so far several efforts to push back into the refinery have not netted them significant gains.
The inability to take the control house in Baiji has prevented ISIS from using the refinery, and the risk of damaging key mechanisms has kept them from making a serious go at taking it over. Despite this, ISIS is believed to have significant forces in the region, and will likely not be easily expelled from the rest of the refinery grounds.