Iraq PM warns violence may spread, militants attack refinery
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki warned that the latest escalation of violence in his country will spill over to those countries which led a "conspiracy" against Iraq as a major oil refinery caught fire after coming under militant attack.
"We will face terrorism and we will bring down the conspiracy. But be sure they will flee to you and your countries will also be burned by sectarian wars," Maliki said in his weekly televised speech, referring to the countries that Iraq earlier accused of supporting terrorist groups.
"What happened in Mosul was a setback, but not a defeat," he said, explaining the negative performance of the Iraqi security forces during the fall of the city of Mosul, the capital of Iraq's northern province of Nineveh.
"We have managed to absorb the shock in Mosul and stopped the deterioration and psychological defeat for some soldiers and leaders. We have now started our reaction and regained the initiative by conducting strikes that would continue," Xinhua quoted Maliki as saying.
Earlier Wednesday, Sunni militant groups attacked the strife-torn country's largest oil refinery in Salahudin province sparking a huge fire, a provincial police source said.
Hundreds of gunmen, including the militants linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL), an Al Qaeda offshoot, waged an attack at dawn on the refinery compound in Baiji city from several directions with machine guns and mortar rounds, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Fierce clashes between the attackers and security forces were underway. One mortar round hit a fuel storage and a large column of black smoke rose above the area, the source said.
The deterioration in security situation in Iraq started last week when bloody clashes broke out between the Iraqi security forces and hundreds of Sunni militants, who took control of several neighbourhoods in the western part of Mosul and expanded later to other areas and provinces after the Iraqi security forces withdrew from the city.
On Tuesday, a statement issued by Maliki's office said neighbouring Saudi Arabia was responsible for "financing and supporting" the insurgent groups in Iraq that led to bloodshed of Iraqis and devastation in the country.
The statement came in response to comments from the Saudi government about the situation in Iraq, which was seen by the Iraqi government as "siding with terrorism" and "interference in the Iraqi internal affairs".
"We strongly condemn such a stance," said the statement.
"The Iraqi government is holding Saudi Arabia responsible for the material and moral support that these insurgent groups gained," the statement said, adding that such support to the terrorists "makes it responsible for the crimes committed by the terrorist groups".
Saudi Arabia's government rejected in a statement Monday any foreign intervention in Iraq's affairs and urged the Iraqi government to ensure the participation of all factions of the Iraqi people in determining the future of their country on an equal footing.
The Saudi statement also called for political and constitutional reforms in Iraq, and a speedy formation of a government of national consensus that can restore security and stability, and avoid policies that will instigate religious extremism and sectarianism.
(Posted on 18-06-2014)