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A member of the Iraqi security forces carries his weapon as he watches smoke rise from a scene of clashes between the Iraqi army and Islamic State militants in Tikrit March 30, 2015. Reuters/Alaa Al-Marjani

Reuters: Iraqi forces plead for help as Islamic State closes in on refinery

Iraqi forces besieged inside the country's largest oil refinery are running low on food and pleading for reinforcements to save them from Islamic State militants who have advanced deep into the compound in the past week.

The insurgents now hold large sections of the sprawling Baiji refinery complex in northern Iraq where some 200 policemen, soldiers and elite special forces are holding out.

“We are surrounded by Daesh from all sides," said a policeman called Mohanad, speaking via telephone from the refinery where his unit has taken up defensive positions in a guest house on the eastern side of the complex. Daesh is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL in English.

MIDDLE EAST

France, Saudi Arabia: Iran nuclear deal must avoid destabilising region.

U.S. warships accompany British commercial vessels in Strait of Hormuz: Pentagon.

Arab coalition 'reconnaissance' troops land in Yemen.

Saudi-led alliance mulls partial truces in Yemen: statement.

Suicide bomber attacks Syrian military facility. Syria conflict: Suicide blast rocks central Damascus.

US military says coalition airstrikes killed ISIS fighters, not Syrian civilians.

Iraqi city still a ghost town a month after defeat of IS.

Islamic State issues beard mandate for men in Mosul: report.

UN peacekeepers injured in mortar fire on Golan Heights.

Ethiopian Israelis clash with police as anti-racism rally turns violent.

Israeli foreign minister steps down to join opposition.

ASIA

Nepal asks foreign rescuers to return as hopes of finding quake survivors dim.

China's Xi Jinping and Taiwan's Eric Chu in high-level talks.

Philippine military says wanted bomb maker was killed.

India soldiers die in Nagaland rebel attack.

China, Russia to sign a host of cooperation deals during Xi’s visit to Moscow.

Taliban 'welcome' Afghan peace efforts after Qatar talks. Taliban, Afghan representatives talk ceasefire but fail to agree. Taliban open to peace talks, but only if all U.S. forces leave Afghanistan.

Suicide blast targets government officials in Kabul. 16 Afghan policemen die in attacks.

Afghan trial begins for 49 people suspected in mob killing of woman. Trial begins in case of Kabul lynching of Farkhunda.

Australia faces massive budget blowout, says Deloitte.

Petrol pirates proliferate on Southeast Asian seas.

AFRICA

Nigeria’s Boko Haram in disarray as government forces advance.

Troops kill 28 suspected militants in central Nigeria: military.

Senegal pledges 2,100 troops to aid Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, foreign minister says.

South Sudan's future at grave risk: Kerry.

Kerry says Kenya has role in resolving Somalia, South Sudan conflicts.

Fixing U.S. ties with Kenya: Kerry meets leader ahead of Obama visit.

Separatist rebels attack army in northern Malian town.

Burundi opposition protests resume as military backs term limits. Burundi: Anti-government protests enter second week. Burundi activist says two dead in protests; no police comment.

Former Boko Haram captives describe deaths during rescue.

Kerry holds talks on security, al Shabaab threat in Kenya.

Somalia's government ban al-Shabab name from media.

Opposition supporters clash with security forces in Guinea.

Egypt extends mandate by three months to deploy military abroad.

EUROPE

Britain can't impose its agenda on EU: Juncker.

Europe toughens up pilot training rules to prevent accidents.

Two Ukrainian servicemen killed in eastern Ukraine: Kiev military.

Around 6,800 migrants rescued, baby girl born on Italian navy ship.

Upswing in fighting in Ukraine sends civilians fleeing and puts truce in doubt.

Europe weighs bombing migrant boats.

Greece aims for deal with lenders, IMF hard on reforms: minister.

Deal or no deal, Greece still faces bankruptcy.

New British princess named as Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.

Jean-Marie Le Pen suspended from French far-right party.

AMERICAS

Two killed outside Mohammed cartoon contest in Garland, Texas. Police shoot dead two gunmen at Texas exhibit of Prophet Mohammad cartoons.

Gunman in Mohammad cartoon attack in Texas monitored for years.

Immigrants to U.S. from China top those from Mexico.

Rocket-propelled grenade forced down Mexican helicopter.

Venezuela to nationalize food distribution.

Cuba gears up for tourist influx as US relations improve.

Bill Clinton defends foundation’s foreign donations and paid speeches. State Department says no evidence donations influenced Hillary Clinton.

3 more Republicans set to join US Presidential race. Carson, Fiorina announce 2016 presidential bids.

Alberta's possible pivot to the left alarms Canadian oil sector.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

In the face of IS successes, al-Qaida adapts, grows stronger.

South Asia al-Qaida group video claims responsibility for blogger murders.

Americans approve of drone strikes on terrorists, AP poll says.

Former CIA chief: We totally dropped the ball on al Qaeda's rebound.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

OPEC says speculation played large role in drop in oil prices.

Seeking global role, China presses Europe in diplomatic push.

Oil falls a second day amid ample U.S. supply, Iraqi shipments.

Unwanted for 50 years: Swiss banks track thousands of unclaimed accounts.

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