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The Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for a Sunday assault on a natural gas plant in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, in which at least 14 people were killed and some 20 others wounded.
Six men wearing explosive belts rushed in and blew up gas tanks at the Taji natural gas plant, some 20 kilometers north of Baghdad’s center. A fight with Iraqi security forces ensued, before ISIS was pushed back.
Eight policemen were among the casualties of the attack.
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Three of the facility’s gas storages reportedly went up in flames amid the violence.
According to the Iraqi Oil Ministry, the attack failed to disrupt production. However, damage was more severe in two nearby power stations which have now reportedly suspended operations.
As it loses ground to a more concerted military push in Iraq, ISIS is stepping up attacks in retribution and focusing on key energy installations.
According to Iraqi authorities, ISIS now controls 14 percent of the country, down from 40 percent in 2014. The group has also lost an estimated 20 percent of the territory it once controlled in Syria—most of those losses are around oil facilities.
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At its peak, ISIS was said to be bringing in around US$1.5 million a day from the illegal sale of Iraqi and Syrian oil, but those profits have since dwindled both in the face of military losses and depressed oil prices.
ISIS has recently intensified attacks behind the frontlines, detonating car bombs in civilian areas and attacking energy installations.
The attack on the natural gas facility follows multiple car bombings and shooting in the capital which killed 110 people.
Earlier this month, ISIS sabotaged oil wells at the Khabaz oilfield near Kirkuk, in northern Iraq. Gunmen used improvised explosives on three wells in the Khabaz oil field, and two of those wells remain on fire and offline.
By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com