MESOP LATEST : Diyala Province Falls to ISIS

20.06.2014 – Nuwar Faqie – BasNews, Diyala – According to BasNews correspondent information, the Iraqi Army and security forces have collapsed and have withdrawn from the Diyala Province in Northern Iraq. The province is now under the control of Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) militants.

Security sources in the province have told BasNews that the Iraqi Army has withdrawn from Diyala Province. However, after the pullout of the army; Iraqi Military planes began bombing ISIS strongholds in the nearby areas, namely the Baiji Oil Refinery. The air defense resulted in a number of Iraqi civilians killed and injured.  The Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS) continues to press its offensive to seize the ‘belts’ regions around Baghdad. Even though the ISIS southward advance has halted in Samarra, just north of Baghdad, it is continuing to bleed into the northeastern region of Diyala Province.BasNews has learned that the Iraqi army has withdrawn from at least six villages located on the outskirts of Diyala Province, which has caused a security vacuum in the area.

Furthermore, reports have emerged that jihadists have taken a chemical weapons facility built by Saddam Hussein which contains a stockpile of old weapons.State Department officials told the Wall Street Journal: ’U.S. officials don’t believe the Sunni militants will be able to create a functional chemical weapon from the material. The weapons stockpiled at the Al Muthanna complex are old, contaminated and difficult to move.’’Nonetheless, the capture of the chemical weapon stockpile by the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, known as ISIS or ISIL, has grabbed the attention of the U.S.’

’We remain concerned about the seizure of any military site by the ISIL,’ Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman, said in a written statement. ’We do not believe that the complex contains CW materials of military value and it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to safely move the materials.’On Thursday night dramatic satellite images emerged showing the oil facility in Baiji with black smoke billowing from the site’s buildings. ISIS rebels had also raised black jihadist banners around the key strategic facility in Baiji despite government forces insisting they were in ’complete control’ of the plant. The photos also show U.S.-made Humvees captured by the heavily armed militants as they manned a checkpoint near the sprawling facility.