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ISIS Torches Qayyara Oil Field in Northern Iraq, National Units Put out Growing Fires | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Firefighters put out a fire at oil wells, which were set ablaze by ISIS militants before they fled the oil-producing region of Qayyara, Iraq, January 28,2017. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

Five oil wells are reportedly still burning out of 25 that ISIS set on fire in Qayyara, south of Mosul, an oil ministry statement said on Thursday.

State-run North Oil Company crews are working unremittingly to control fires torched by the hardline terrorists. ISIS militants seek to slow down the advance of U.S.-backed Iraqi forces toward Mosul, their last major city stronghold in Iraq.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his Iraqi counterpart had spoken by phone for the first time earlier Wednesday, and discussed “planning for operations to liberate western Mosul,” the Pentagon said. The complete liberation of Mosul will spell the end for the self-styled caliphate in Iraq.

ISIS in recent months has been weakened on many fronts, with its territory in parts of Iraq shrinking. In Iraq, ISIS has lost territory in and around its northern stronghold of Mosul since U.S.-backed Iraqi forces last October began ground operations in the country.

“What we would expect is that within the next few weeks is that the city would be nearly completely isolated and then there will be a decision point to move in,” U.S. Air Force Colonel John Dorrian said.

U.S. military leaders have warned that ISIS will likely turn into a more classic insurgency once it loses Raqqa and Mosul, meaning the broader fight could stretch on for years.