BAGHDAD - Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's spokesman Rafid Jaboori has resigned over a video showing him singing the praises of Dictator Saddam Hussein more than a decade ago, he said Saturday.

Twelve years after Saddam was overthrown by the US-led invasion, many Iraqis still despise him for the abuses committed by his Baath party regime. ‘I didn't want to further embarrass the prime minister's office so I requested I be relieved and that was done,’ Jaboori said in a post on his personal Facebook page. Jaboori - a former BBC journalist who became Abadi's spokesman less than six months ago - confirmed to AFP that he had resigned.

In a video that has been widely circulated online in recent days, Jaboori performs a song that describes the dictator, who has since been executed, as the ‘sword of righteousness against wrong,’ and says: ‘O Saddam Hussein, your enemies all fall and you remain.’ The video is interspersed with images including of Saddam standing in front of crowds, holding a sword and riding a white horse in a parade. On Friday, Jaboori posted a statement on his official Facebook page that confirmed that he sang the song ‘more than 15 years ago,’ saying that ‘I had to meet the requirements of living at that time’. ‘I was young then and lacked wisdom, but even at that time, I was not a member of the Baath party, and I am not a Baathist now,’ he said. Iraqi forces retook most of the country's largest refinery from Islamic State on Saturday, security officials said, reversing gains by the militants who seized parts of the sprawling complex this week.

The insurgents attacked Iraq's Baiji refinery a week ago by blasting through the security perimeter around it and taking over several installions, including storage tanks. A spokesman for Iraq's counterterrorism forces told Reuters troops protecting the refinery had now retaken most facilities, although there were still small pockets of insurgents left on the site.

‘We expect to regain full control within a couple of hours,’ Sabah al-Noamani said. Iraqi forces retook Baiji refinery from militants once before last November, but lost control of it again. Islamic State insurgents suffered a major defeat this month when Iraqi troops and Shi'ite paramilitaries routed them from the city of Tikrit, but struck back at Baiji and in the western province of Anbar.

Thousands of families have fled Anbar in recent days as Islamic State militants gained on Ramadi and local officials warned the city was about to fall. Two members of the Anbar provincial council and police Major Khalid al-Fahdawi who is stationed inside Ramadi said reinforcements were on the way and the city was no longer in immediate peril. ‘The danger is still there, but the situation is better than yesterday,’ provincial council member Sabah Karhout told Reuters. Moreover, the Islamic State group claimed Saturday a bombing near the US consulate in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region a day earlier that killed two Turks.‘Security detachments were able to detonate a car bomb left at the American consulate building in the city that led to the killing and wounding of many of them’, IS said.

 in a daily audio message posted online. But the US State Department said the bombing in Ainkawa, near Kurdish regional capital Arbil, did not kill or wound any consular employees.

Saman Barzanchi, the head of the Arbil health department, said Saturday that two ethnically Kurdish Turks were killed and eight people wounded. Officials had said Friday three people were killed. An IS-spearheaded offensive overran large areas of Iraq last year, and forces from the Kurdistan region have battled the jihadists on multiple fronts in the north.

The relatively stable region has largely been spared the bombings and shootings that have plagued other parts of Iraq on an almost daily basis. The last major attack was a suicide car bombing near the governor's compound in Arbil in November. Before this, A car bombing claimed by the Islamic State killed three people on Friday outside the U.S. consulate in Erbil, in a relatively rare attack in the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan region.

No U.S. personnel were hurt in the blast, according to the U.S. State Department, which said a ‘vehicle-borne improvised explosive device’ exploded right outside the entrance to the heavily fortified compound. Iraq's Kurdish region is an important partner for the U.S.-led coalition in its campaign to ‘degrade and destroy’ the Islamic State group, which overran large parts of Iraq last summer and threatened to reach Erbil. A Reuters witness heard the blast, which was followed by gunfire and a column of black smoke high above the Ankawa district, a predominantly Christian neighbourhood packed with cafes popular with foreigners.

‘It seems the consulate was the target,’ Nihad Qoja, the mayor of Erbil's city centre, told Reuters. The head of security for Ankawa said three people were killed and 14 wounded. ‘They (Islamic State) want to show they are present,’ Sherzad Farmand said.

Islamic State also claimed responsibility for two car bombings in the Baghdad that killed at least 27 people on Friday. ‘The fighters of the Islamic State detonated two car bombs in the heart of the Iraqi capital this evening and a third in Erbil,’ the group said via its news agency. US officials said they found the Islamic State claim of responsibility for the Erbil consulate attack credible. ‘We have no reason to doubt their claim of responsibility,’ a US counterterrorism official told Reuters. Such attacks are relatively rare in Kurdistan, which has managed to insulate itself from the worst of the violence afflicting the rest of Iraq. The last major attack in Erbil, also claimed by Islamic State, was in November, when a suicide car bomber blew himself up outside the governor's office, killing five.