Baiji, Iraq

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Bayji Fertiliser Plant.jpg
Bayji Fertiliser Plant, February 2008
Iraq adm location map.svg
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Baiji's location inside Iraq
Coordinates: 34°55′45″N43°29′35″E / 34.92917°N 43.49306°E / 34.92917; 43.49306
CountryFlag of Iraq.svg  Iraq
Governorate Salah ad Din
410 ft (125 m)

Baiji (Arabic : بيجي; also spelled Bayji) is a city of about 200,000 inhabitants in northern Iraq. It is located some 130 miles north of Baghdad, on the main road to Mosul. It is a major industrial centre best known for its oil refinery, the biggest in Iraq, and has a large power plant. With regards to transport in the area, Baiji is a junction of the national railway network.

Baghdad Capital of Iraq

Baghdad is the capital of Iraq and the second largest city in West Asia. Located along the Tigris River, the city was founded in the 8th century and became the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. Within a short time of its inception, Baghdad evolved into a significant cultural, commercial, and intellectual center for the Islamic world. This, in addition to housing several key academic institutions, as well as hosting multiethnic and multireligious environment, garnered the city a worldwide reputation as the "Centre of Learning".

Mosul City in Iraq

Mosul is a major city in northern Iraq. Located approximately 400 km (250 mi) north of Baghdad, Mosul stands on the west bank of the Tigris, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank. The metropolitan area has grown to encompass substantial areas on both the "Left Bank" and the "Right Bank", as the two banks are described by the locals compared to the flow direction of Tigris.

Baiji oil refinery

The Baiji oil refinery is the largest oil refinery in Iraq and produces a third of the country's oil output. The refinery is 130 miles north of Baghdad, about halfway between Baghdad and Mosul, near the city of Baiji. In 2008, 500 tanker trucks filled with fuel used to leave the refinery per day. It was a target of intense fighting between the Islamic State and the Iraqi government in 2014 and 2015.



After the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, dozens of British civilians taken captive in Kuwait were held at the Baiji oil refinery, apparently as human shields. The city was bombed during the 1991 Gulf War and about 80% of the oil refinery was destroyed. It was quickly rebuilt and was back in action only a couple of months after the war's end. However, a lack of maintenance and spare parts resulting from the United Nations trade embargo against Iraq caused the deterioration of the city's oil refinery, which by the late 1990s was in a very poor condition and was seriously polluting the surrounding area.

Invasion of Kuwait Major conflict between Iraq and Kuwait

The invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990 was a two-day operation conducted by Iraq against the neighboring State of Kuwait, which resulted in the seven-month-long Iraqi occupation of the country. This invasion and Iraq's subsequent refusal to withdraw from Kuwait by a deadline mandated by the United Nations led to military intervention by a United Nations-authorized coalition of forces led by the United States. These events came to be known as the first Gulf War and resulted in the expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait and the Iraqis setting 600 Kuwaiti oil wells on fire during their retreat.

Human shield deliberate placement of non-combatants in or around combat targets to deter an enemy from attacking those targets

Human shield is a military and political term describing the deliberate placement of non-combatants in or around combat targets to deter the enemy from attacking these combat targets. It may also refer to the use of persons to literally shield combatants during attacks, by forcing them to march in front of the combatants.

Gulf War 1990–1991 war between Iraq and Coalition Forces

The Gulf War, codenamed Operation Desert Shield for operations leading to the buildup of troops and defense of Saudi Arabia and Operation Desert Storm in its combat phase, was a war waged by coalition forces from 35 nations led by the United States against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait arising from oil pricing and production disputes. The war is also known under other names, such as the Persian Gulf War, First Gulf War, Gulf War I, Kuwait War, First Iraq War or Iraq War, before the term "Iraq War" became identified instead with the post-2003 Iraq War. The war has also earned the nickname Video Game War after the daily broadcast of images from cameras on board US bombers during Operation Desert Storm.

Iraq War (2003–2008)

Baiji was captured with little or no fighting during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It was briefly thought in late April 2003 that barrels of chemicals found in a storage area near the town contained the nerve agent cyclosarin. Soon afterwards, United States troops discovered an underground oil refinery at Baiji which was initially suspected to be a chemical weapons plant. Both leads eventually proved to be false alarms in the search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

2003 invasion of Iraq military invasion led by the United States

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was the first stage of the Iraq War. The invasion phase began on 19 March 2003 and lasted just over one month, including 21 days of major combat operations, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq. This early stage of the war formally ended on 1 May 2003 when U.S. President George W. Bush declared the "End of major combat operations", after which the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was established as the first of several successive transitional governments leading up to the first Iraqi parliamentary election in January 2005. U.S. military forces later remained in Iraq until the withdrawal in 2011.

Nerve agents, sometimes also called nerve gases, are a class of organic chemicals that disrupt the mechanisms by which nerves transfer messages to organs. The disruption is caused by the blocking of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that catalyzes the breakdown of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter.

Cyclosarin or GF is an extremely toxic substance used as a chemical weapon. It is a member of the G-series family of nerve agents, a group of chemical weapons discovered and synthesized by a German team led by Dr. Gerhard Schrader. The major nerve gases are the G agents, sarin (GB), soman (GD), tabun (GA), and the V agents such as VX. The original agent, tabun, was discovered in Germany in 1936 in the process of work on organophosphorus insecticides. Next came sarin, soman and finally the most toxic, cyclosarin, a product of commercial insecticide laboratories prior to World War II.

Following the invasion, Baiji subsequently became the scene of a number of insurgent attacks. The town is at one end of the "Sunni Triangle" region which provided the bedrock of Saddam Hussein's support. The sprawling oil refinery and pipelines have been particularly difficult to protect against guerrillas. There have been repeated attacks on the oil pipelines and other elements of the oil infrastructure.

Sunni Triangle densely populated region of Iraq, northwest of Baghdad, inhabited mostly by Sunni Arabs; demarcated by Baghdad, Ramadi, and Tikrit

The Sunni Triangle is a densely populated region of Iraq to the northwest of Baghdad that is inhabited mostly by Sunni Muslim Arabs.

Guerrilla warfare form of irregular warfare

Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare in which small groups of combatants, such as paramilitary personnel, armed civilians, or irregulars, use military tactics including ambushes, sabotage, raids, petty warfare, hit-and-run tactics, and mobility, to fight a larger and less-mobile traditional military. Guerrilla groups are a type of violent non-state actor.

In October 2003, violent riots broke out in the town in protest against the US-backed police force, which was accused of corruption. US troops restored order, wounding four Iraqis in the process, and sacked the town's police chief, replacing him with a local man elected by tribal elders. A US soldier was killed in the town on October 12. US troops subsequently conducted a number of raids in the town to root out guerrillas, who were publicly supported by some of Baiji's clergy. It was also thought that Saddam Hussein might be hiding in Baiji, prompting raids to find him, before he was eventually captured in December 2003 in the nearby village of ad-Dawr.

In May 2007, a Joint Security Station (JSS) was established in Baiji named "JSS Arvanitis-Sigua" after two US Paratroopers who lost their lives in combat in Bayji. [1]

In April 2009, the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) opened within the JSS. The function of the JCC is to enable the coordination of Iraqi municipal agencies thereby building the Government's capacity to provide essential services to the approximately 250,000 residents of the greater Baiji area.

2014 ISIS offensive

On 11 June 2014, ISIL insurgents advanced into Baiji, seizing the main court house and police station and setting them on fire. The militants, who were travelling in a group of around 60 vehicles, also took control of the Baiji prison and freed all the inmates within. Local residents told members of the media that ISIS sent a group of local tribal chiefs ahead of them to convince the 250 guards at the oil plant to withdraw, while soldiers and police had been warned to leave as well. [2] Later in the day, militants reportedly retreated from Baiji either due to persuasion from local tribal leaders [3] or due to reinforcements from the Iraqi Army's Fourth Armored Division arriving in the city. [4] However, the next day it was confirmed ISIL was still in control of the town, except the refinery which was surrounded. [5]

On 18 June, ISIL attacked the refinery with mortars and machine guns. [6] An official from inside the refinery stated the militants had captured 75 percent of the facility, while a military spokesman claimed the attack had been repelled with 40 insurgents being killed. [7]

On 19 June, Iraqi government forces claimed to have regained full control of the Baiji oil refinery, after heavy fighting with that left 100 militants dead. [8] An Iraqi witness who drove past the Baiji refinery told the Associated Press that ISIL had hung their banners from the watch towers and created checkpoints surrounding the facility, despite government claims of control. [9] [10]

On 20 June, the town was still under complete control of the militants while the oil refinery was surrounded by ISIL forces and had once again come under attack. [11]

2014 Army counteroffensive

On 7 November 2014, Iraqi forces retook control of most of the strategic city Baiji from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. So now government troops hold more than 70 percent of the city—including neighborhoods in the south, east and north—and are battling to capture the rest. [12]

On 14 November 2014, Iraqi officials say their forces have driven out ISIL fighters from the oil refinery town of Baiji, 200km (130 miles) north of Baghdad. Gen Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi told Iraqi state TV that the town "had been completely liberated". There were still reports of heavy fighting around the oil refinery, which is Iraq's largest.



Baiji as a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh). Most rain falls in the winter. The average annual temperature in Baiji is 22.0 °C (71.6 °F). About 205 mm (8.07 in) of precipitation falls annually.

Climate data for Kut
Average high °C (°F)14.1
Average low °C (°F)4.0
Average precipitation mm (inches)36

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  1. Bayji a safer place with new station.
  2. "Half a million flee unrest in Iraq's Mosul". Al Jazeera. 11 June 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
  3. "Iraq army capitulates to Isis militants in four cities". The Irish Times. 12 June 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  4. "Iraqi city of Tikrit falls to ISIL fighters". Al Jazeera. 11 June 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
  5. Raseed, Ahmed; Coles, Isabella. "Obama warns of U.S. action as jihadists push on Baghdad". Reuters. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  6. "Sunni militants attacked on Iraq`s largest oil refinery in Baiji". Patrika Group. Archived from the original on 2 July 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  7. "Iraq crisis: Battle grips vital Baiji oil refinery". BBC News. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  8. "Iraq Forces 'Retake' Oil Refinery From ISIS". Sky News. 19 June 2014.
  9. "ISIS Militants' Black Banners Hang at Beiji Refinery: AP Witness". NBC News. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  10. "Baiji oil refinery battle can be seen from space - Daily Mail Online". Mail Online. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  11. "Iraq crisis: Fierce battles for Baiji and Tal Afar". BBC News. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  12. "Iraqi Forces Advance in Jihadist-Held Baiji". Naharnet. 7 November 2014.

Coordinates: 34°55′45″N43°29′35″E / 34.92917°N 43.49306°E / 34.92917; 43.49306