Insurgents claim they have seized 75 per cent control of the country's largest oil refinery today despite Iraq's prime minister insisting his government has regained the initiative against Sunni militants.
Nouri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite who has been in office since 2006, said in a televised address that the loss last week of a large swathe of territory has helped Iraq restore its national unity.
'We were able to contain the strike and arrest deterioration... we have now started our counter-offensive, regaining the initiative and striking back,' he said.
But his upbeat assessment came as reports suggested ISIS militants had captured three-quarters of Iraq's largest oil terminal in Baiji after a day of heavy fighting at gates defended by elite troops.
Insurgents are also thought to have kidnapped at least 100 foreign workers across the country during their week-long offensive. There have been no reports so far to suggest that British nationals are among them.