Iraqi Troops Surrounded by ISIS in Key Refinery Battle

75 Troops Left in Tiny Building at Vast Refinery

The fighting over the Baiji Refinery, Iraq’s largest, looks to be moving into an endgame situation, with reports from Iraqi officials familiar with the situation saying they are down to just 75 troops, hold up in a small compound on the vast 300 acre site.

The 75 special forces troops are cut off from supplies and reinforcements, and are surrounded by ISIS fighters that control the rest of the facility, and their tribal allies who have been promised the right to run the operation when ISIS takes it outright.

ISIS is said to be reluctant to try to overrun the final compound over concerns of damaging important equipment and controls within, and seem content to wait the troops out.

Iraq’s military likewise seems unwilling to try to get any more troops into the facility, and is said to have ruled out trying to airlift supplies to the trapped troops, fearing the plane will get shot down.

The 75 were effectively all the remaining defense for the refinery for awhile, since the 400-strong battalion originally defended the site fled almost immediately. Though the special forces didn’t flee they have continued to lose out ground and are down to their last building.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.