Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey (L) and U.S, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter speak to the media during a briefing at the Pentagon April 16, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. (AFP)
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The top U.S. military officer says that even though ISIS militants are closing in on the western Iraqi city of Ramadi, American airstrikes are concentrating more on protecting the strategically important town of Beiji and the oil refinery there.The insurgents suffered a major defeat this month when Iraqi troops and Shiite paramilitaries routed them from the city of Tikrit, but are now striking back at Baiji refinery and in the western province of Anbar.A source in the military operations command for Salahuddin province where Baiji is located said an Iraqi army battalion had arrived to help defend the refinery Thursday, and the militants had not been able to take any major infrastructure.Dempsey said Beiji was more strategic than Anbar, given Baiji's critical oil infrastructure, and did not appear to rule out the possibility Ramadi might fall, if only temporarily.
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