DAMASCUS – Warplanes of the U.S.-led coalition have pummeled at least 175 targets in the ISIS’s major oil-rich areas in a month, as Washington seeks to disrupt a key revenue source which almost brings the radical group of Islamic State (ISIS) nearly $1 million a day.
Earlier this week, 116 oil tanker trucks have been hit by the coalition forces, which is the first time Washington targets ISIS vehicles in the wake of last Friday’s deadly attacks in Paris claimed by the extremist group.
The targets, which include key oilfields, were previously not allowed to be attacked by the U.S.-led coalition in a bid to avoid civilian casualties and preserve oil infrastructure that could be needed later by a new Syrian government.
The Pentagon said in a statement that the coalition’s strikes have caused “significant damage” to ISIS’s ability to fund itself. The strikes have been focused on oil facilities near Deir ez-Zor and al-Bukamal, which provide nearly two-thirds of the group’s oil revenue.
Speaking to ARA News, Syrian journalist Muwafaq Ahmed said: “If the West continued arming moderate rebels alongside covering their backs in the battlefields, this would definitely enable them control these facilities as well as deprive the extremist group of its financial resources.”
Previously, ISIS has been able to repair some oil facilities that had been exposed to damages by airstrikes.
As its own oil trucks have been attacked by the U.S. and allies, ISIS started to use civilian trucks to transfer its oil across the group-held territory and sell it to locals who use it for power generators and vehicles, according to local activists.
“We finally blew up a bunch of oil trucks,” said former State Department counter terrorism coordinator Daniel Benjamin.
Last year, striking mobile refineries had deprived the group’s oil revenues from $3 million a day to under $1 million a day, according to independent estimates.
However, the group was able to repair many damaged facilities quickly, according to U.S. officials.
“The new strategy of striking key oilfields may permanently destroy oil wells along with other facilities, preventing any future Syrian government from its revenue,” a monitoring group has said, warning of the possibility of killing civilians in these attacks.
ISIS not only relies on oil revenue to fund its military operations, but also gaining much more money from ransoms paid for releasing hostages whether by individuals or organizations.
Some reports say ISIS still earns tens of millions per month from oil sales, thus striking these facilities could considerably reduce the amount.
According to local activists, the terror group makes most of its money from taxing, oil sale, kidnapping, ransoms, and the sale of antiquities.
Reporting by: Resho Issa
Source: ARA News
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