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Iraqi defense minister unharmed in sniper attack

AP , Monday 7 Sep 2015
Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi
Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi speaks to the media after a news conference in Amman April 8, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

Iraq's defense minister escaped a sniper attack north of Baghdad unharmed Monday, officials said, though one of his guards was wounded in the shooting near Islamic State-controlled territory.

The attack targeted Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi as he traveled in a convoy near the contested oil refinery town of Beiji, a ministry statement said. One guard was wounded, the statement said, without elaborating.

The Islamic State group holds about a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in its self-declared "caliphate." Beiji, home to the country's biggest refinery, has been under near-constant assault since Islamic State militants swept into Iraq last year, though authorities said they liberated the town in November.

A U.S.-led coalition is conducting airstrikes to target the Islamic State group across both Syria and Iraq.

In Syria, activists said Islamic State militants captured the Jazal oil field late Sunday after intense clashes with government forces in the area in the central province of Homs. Syria-based activist Bebars al-Talawy said via Skype that Islamic State fighters first attacked army posts around the Jazal field, then stormed the field.

Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Monday that all the engineers working in the field moved to the nearby government-controlled Shaer gas field.

He said government troops withdrew from the field but now overlook parts of it.

Islamic State fighters control much of Syria's oil fields that are mostly in the eastern regions bordering Iraq.

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