Iraqi government forces battled Sunni rebels for control of the country’s biggest refinery on Thursday as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki waited for a U.S. response to an appeal for air strikes to beat back the threat to Baghdad. The sprawling Baiji refinery, 130 miles north of the capital near Tikrit, was a battlefield as troops loyal to the Shi’ite-led government held off insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and its allies who had stormed the perimeter a day earlier, threatening national energy supplies. Related Video: Iraq fights militants around refinery Photos: Sectarian violence splits Iraq Panicked refugees pour out of Pakistan’s Waziristan Photos Photos: Images of…

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