Iraq fights militants around oil refinery and in city near Syrian border

By The Associated Press | Posted - Jun. 18, 2014 at 11:31 a.m.

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BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi security forces today have been trying to stop the week-long advance by Sunni militants. They've been battling insurgents targeting the country's main oil refinery. And they say they've regained partial control of a city near the Syrian border.

In a televised address to the nation, Iraq's prime minister said his armed forces had begun a "counteroffensive" -- and he vowed to teach the attackers a "lesson." The comments from Nouri al-Maliki came even though Iraqi soldiers had abandoned their posts after the initial militant offensive.

Al-Maliki is a Shiite, and he appeared on TV with Sunni leaders and politicians as a sign of solidarity.

Meanwhile, India's government says 40 Indian construction workers have been seized near Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, which had been captured last week by the militants. And Turkey's foreign ministry says its diplomats are investigating a report that militants grabbed 60 foreign construction workers near the northern Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk.

%@AP Links

160-r-17-(Sound of gunfire and Kurdish military chatter, then more gunfire, near frontline of one militant offensive in northern Iraq)--This is sound of gunfire and Kurdish security forces near the frontline of one militant offensive in northern Iraq. COURTESY: Sky News ((mandatory on-air credit)) (18 Jun 2014)

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APPHOTO BKM102: Iraqi Shiite tribal fighters raise their weapons and chant slogans against the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, after authorities urged Iraqis to help battle insurgents, in Baghdad's Sadr City, Iraq, Wednesday, June 18, 2014. Thousands of Shiites from Baghdad and across southern Iraq answered an urgent call to arms Saturday, joining security forces to fight the Islamic militants who have captured large swaths of territory north of the capital and now imperil Samarra, a city with a much-revered religious shrine. The poster at top depicts Shiite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed) (18 Jun 2014)

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