June 18 - Sunni militants have taken control of Iraq's largest oil refinery in Baiji as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki blames Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Sunni opponents for the unrest that has gripped his country. Deborah Gembara reports.
This smoke is coming from the Baiji refinery, some 130 miles north of Baghdad, in this video posted to a social media website whose content Reuters cannot independently confirm. An official at the refinery, which is Iraq's largest, says Sunni militants are now in control --- after fierce clashes with government soldiers earlier. They say at least 75% of the refinery --- namely the production units, administration building, and four watch towers are in their hands. In Baghdad, heavily armed counter terrorism troops fanned out across the capital. They're manning checkpoints and searching vehicles. U.S. Special forces have started a month of training for Iraqi troops in Jordan --- they're the second group to go through the latest U.S. counter-terrorism training program. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki blamed the turmoil that has gripped his country for the past week on Saudi Arabia and Qatar, accusing the countries of supporting militants from ISIL which is short for the Islamic State of Islam and the Levant. He also offered this warning: SOUNDBITE: Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki saying (Arabic): "Unfortunately some local political parties co-operated with the countries that do not want to see a strong Iraq, but I would say to those and to our brothers and friends that the terror will not stop at Iraq's borders, and we will fight the terrorism and defeat the plot, but you have to know that the terrorists will escape to your countries where sectarian and civil wars will erupt." Washington and other Western capitals are calling on Maliki to reach out to Sunnis, and while he met briefly with Kurdish and Sunni opponents overnight --- he's mostly just lashed out at Sunni politicians as traitors.