The US and allied partners struck oil refineries held by the extremist group calling itself the Islamic State on Wednesday, the Pentagon said.
US Central Command said the 13 airstrikes targeted 12 oil refineries held by the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL. The oil refineries were located in remote areas in eastern Syria, near Al Mayadin, Al Hasakah, and Abu Kamal.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also participated in the airstrikes, Central Command said.
“We are still assessing the outcome of the attack on the refineries, but have initial indications that the strikes were successful,” Central Command said in a statement.
One airstrike also targeted an ISIS vehicle. The vehicle was destroyed.
For ISIS, which is now the wealthiest terrorist group in the world, oil is a key source of riches. ISIS is believed to have taken control of hundreds of oil wells in Syria from both the government and moderate rebels, and the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad has said it has lost about $US4 million in stolen oil amid the country’s ongoing civil war.
ISIS, meanwhile, earns as much as $US2 million per day illegal selling oil, Central Command said. The group produces anywhere between 300-500 barrels of refined petroleum per day.
“These small-scale refineries provided fuel to run ISIL operations, money to finance their continued attacks throughout Iraq and Syria, and an economic asset to support their future operations,” Central Command said.
According to Janine Davidson and Emerson Brookings of the Council on Foreign Relations, ISIS has access to “a volume of resources and territory unmatched in the history of extremist organisations.” And according to the Brookings Institute, ISIS controls about 60% of Syria’s oil fields and several oil-producing assets in Iraq.
Before these airstrikes, the US had conducted 20 strikes against ISIS-held targets in Syria since Monday. Military forces have also carried out nearly 200 airstrikes against the group in Iraq.