Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Islamic State: US-Led Airstrikes Target Oil Assets in Syria

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Islamic State: US-Led Airstrikes Target Oil Assets in Syria

Article excerpt

US-led jet fighters launched new airstrikes overnight, targeting Syrian oilfields under the control of the self-declared Islamic State, in an effort to degrade the group's financial assets.

The Pentagon said in a statement that US planes and drones, alongside Saudi and United Arab Emirates forces, hit about a dozen oil refineries in eastern Syria that were estimated to earn about $2 million per day for IS, the Los Angeles Times reports. The US Treasury has designated several IS-connected individuals and one charity as terrorists, in a coordinated effort to cut off IS's financial supply lines.

"We are still assessing the outcome of the attack on the refineries, but have initial indications that the strikes were successful," U.S. Central Command said in a statement. "These small- scale refineries provided fuel to run ISIL operations, money to finance their continued attacks ... and an economic asset to support their future operations."The statement said the facilities produced 300 to 500 barrels of refined petroleum per day. Experts say the Islamic State relies on oil smuggling as a key source of revenue for its military operations. The group also raises money from robberies, ransoms, extortion and taxing local communities.Retired US Army Col. Peter Mansoor warned that throttling IS's finances would be a long, difficult project, and that airstrikes were only a part of the effort. "Even if we stop their oil flow today, they still have about a billion dollars in the bank," he told CNN.

"They seized about a third of a billion dollars from the central bank of Mosul (Iraq)." On top of that, Mansoor said, ISIS has garnered millions of dollars in ransoms from European governments for hostages and have traded much of their oil." ..."So it's unlikely these airstrikes have crippled ISIS. As the President has said, it's going to be a long campaign, and it will be months -- perhaps years -- before ISIS is dealt a serious blow absent any sort of ground force to go in and root them out on the ground.In July, the Financial Times challenged the claim, which Mansoor repeated, that IS had looted hundreds of millions of dollars in cash from banks in Mosul. …

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