A man is seen near thick smoke and fire at oil wells, which were set ablaze by Islamic State militants before they fled the oil-producing region of Qayyara, Iraq, January 28,2017. (REUTERS Photo)
BAGHDAD, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- The Iraqi Oil Ministry on Thursday said firefighters have put out fire at an oil well near the town of Qayyara, which Iraqi forces freed from the Islamic State (IS) militants last year.
"The technical teams of the (government-owned) North Oil Company, civil defense and military engineers have managed to extinguish well No. 70 in Qayyara oilfield in Iraq's northern province of Nineveh," the ministry said in a statement.
Efforts are continuing to extinguish fire on five more oil wells, the statement said, quoting oil ministry spokesman Asim Jihad.
So far, the firefighting efforts managed to put out some fire at 20 oil wells south of Mosul, Jihad said.
Ahead of the advance of the security forces to liberate Mosul, IS militants set fire to many oil wells and sabotaged the town's oil installations before fleeing Qayyara, some 50 km south of Mosul.
On Aug. 25, Iraqi security forces freed the strategic Qayyara, to use it as a staging ground for a major offensive to retake Mosul, the last major IS stronghold in Iraq, some 400 km north of Baghdad.
On Oct. 17, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the start of the offensive to recapture Mosul, the country's second largest city.
Late in December, the troops freed the eastern side of Mosul, locally known as the left bank of Tigris River that bisects the city.
Mosul, the capital city of Nineveh province, has been under IS control since June 2014, when Iraqi government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq's northern and western regions.