The U.S. military has stepped up efforts to help Iraqi forces hold on to the strategic Beiji oil refinery after Islamic State fighters gained ground in the area, including the defensive perimeter, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Thursday.

Gen. Martin Dempsey told reporters at the Pentagon that the U.S. has conducted 26 airstrikes in the Beiji area since Tuesday and that a mobile training team at Baghdad International Airport has been working with Iraqi forces to help them rig air drops.

He said Iraqi forces “are under pressure” in Beiji and “have lost some control of the perimeter and some of the road network” leading to the town from Baghdad because the Islamic State has planted so many explosives in the area. […]