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Iraq crisis: Fierce battles for Baiji and Tal Afar

Islamist-led militants and pro-government forces are engaged in fierce battles for the Baiji oil refinery and Tal Afar airport in northern Iraq. Baiji, Iraq’s biggest refinery, is surrounded by the rebels, who say they have seized most of Tal Afar airport. The fighting comes a day after the US said it would send some 300 military advisers to help the fight against the insurgents. President Barack Obama stressed that US troops would not fight in Iraq. US Secretary of State Kerry is expected to travel to Iraq soon to press for a more representative cabinet, hoping this could ease tensions between the country’s rival Muslim sects. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has been accused of…