US defense officials say Iran has entered the fight to retake a major Iraqi oil refinery from Islamic State militants.
The officials said Iran is contributing small numbers of troops, including some that are operating artillery and other heavy weapons in support of Iraqi ground forces trying to regain control of the Beiji refinery.
The officials weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Iranian role was not mentioned in a US military statement Friday asserting that Iraqi security forces – with US help – had managed this week to establish a land route into the refinery compound to reinforce and resupply Iraqi troops who have been isolated there.
The US role in Beiji is limited to airstrikes and aerial reconnaissance.