Militants regrouping in Iraq refinery attack

BAGHDAD (AP) - The army officer in charge of protecting a key Iraqi refinery besieged by Sunni militants says he fears insurgents are regrouping to resume their assault on the key facility.

The fight over the Beiji refinery, some 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Baghdad, began Tuesday.

Col. Ali al-Qureishi said the latest attempt by fighters came late Thursday. Al-Qureishi told The Associated Press on Friday that he believed the militants were regrouping to launch a new attack.

There was no immediate way to independently verify al-Qureishi's claims.

Its loss would be a devastating symbol of the Baghdad government's powerlessness in the face of the offensive by Sunni militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The militants captured much of northern Iraq in a lightning offensive last week.

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