Iraq's largest oil refinery fell to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria Wednesday morning.
More from The New York Times:
The facility at Baiji is the first operating refinery to fall to the fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, who have swept through much of northern Iraq and had surrounded the refinery in Baiji for the past week, battling with a battalion of the Iraqi Army that had been backed up by air support.
The capture of the refinery could deny the Iraq government an important source of fuel and provide the insurgents a potentially lucrative income earner, assuming they can ensure the facility's continued operation and sell the fuel, at least in the areas they control. ISIS already profits from its control of oil resources in eastern Syria.
An Iraqi military spokesman, Gen. Qassim Atta, denied that the Baiji refinery had fallen in a televised statement that he made hours after ISIS fighters had apparently taken over the refinery.
As ISIS gains more traction in Iraq, we'll look at the possible role of America in the conflict and the potential consequences.
"While the U.S. may still have some stake in what happens in Iraq, it's been left with little leverage to do anything about it," says David Welna for NPR:
[Persian Gulf expert Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution] notes that Iraq is once again in a state of civil war -- just as it was seven years ago. But unlike then, the U.S. no longer has either the political or military clout it once had, he says.
"I think that we have to recognize that we're not probably going to be able to do a whole lot in Iraq," he says. "We may not be able to shut down this civil war, not anytime soon."