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Wed 16 Mar 2016 12:43 PM

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Iraq preparing to push ISIL away from oil region – report

Operation would bring the combined forces closer to Mosul, the largest Iraqi city still held by ISIL

Iraq preparing to push ISIL away from oil region – report
The Iraqi army is deploying thousands of soldiers to a northern base in preparation for operations to retake the (IS) groups hub of Mosul. (Getty Images)

Kurdish Peshmerga forces, an Iran-backed Shi'ite militia and Iraq's army will launch an offensive soon to push ISIL fighters away from the northern oil region of Kirkuk, a state newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The operation would bring the combined forces closer to Mosul, the largest Iraqi city still held by ISIL, which also controls parts of neighbouring Syria.

The commander of the Shi'ite Badr Organisation, Hadi al-Amiri, met the Kurdish Regional Government's interior minister, Karim Sinjari, and officials from Iraq's defence ministry in Kirkuk on Tuesday, al-Sabah newspaper said.

They agreed plans to take back territory stretching from Kirkuk and Baiji, to al-Shirqat, it said.

The oil city of Kirkuk is under Peshmerga control while Baiji, which has an oil refinery, is held by the Badr Organisation, the largest component of the Shi'ite Popular Mobilisation Forces coalition that assembled in 2014 to fight ISIL.

Al-Shirqat is about 100 km (60 miles) south of Mosul, 100 km west of Kirkuk and 60 km north of Baiji.

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