Islamic State crisis: US hits IS oil targets in Syria

SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)

The US-led coalition against Islamic State (IS) has targeted 12 oil refineries in Syria on a third night of air strikes against the militants.

Raids carried out by US, Saudi and UAE aircraft killed 14 of the group’s fighters and five civilians in eastern Syria, activists said.

According to the Pentagon, the refineries generated up to $2m (£1.2m) per day in revenue for the militants.

In northern Syria, Kurdish forces say they have pushed back an IS advance.

US President Barack Obama has vowed to dismantle the IS “network of death”.

Islamic State (IS) oil production

IS is believed to control six out of 10 of Syria’s oil fields, including the Omar facility, and four small fields in Iraq, including Ajeel and Hamreen

Production in Syria is estimated at 50,000 barrels per day and 30,000 in Iraq, generating revenue of between $1m (£600,000) and $5m per day

Oil is sold to local merchants, or to middlemen who smuggle it into Iraqi Kurdistan or over borders with Turkey, Iran and Jordan, and then sell to traders in a grey market. Oil is also sold to the Syrian government

Seizures of smuggled fuel in Turkey rose from 35,260 tons in 2011 to more than 50,000 tons in the first six months of 2014, before the Turkish authorities began to crack down on illegal trade

Sources: Financial Times, EIA, Iraq Energy Institute, Maplecroft


IS has seized large areas of Syria and Iraq in recent months and controls several oilfields. Sales of smuggled crude oil have helped finance its offensive in both countries.

The US has launched nearly 200 air strikes against the militants in Iraq since August and expanded the operation against IS to Syria on Monday.

In other developments

Syria’s army said it had retaken the key strategic town of Adra, north-east of Damascus, which had been held by militants from the Nusra Front among others

France launched air strikes on IS targets in northern Iraq – its first there in nearly a week

IS publicly killed a human rights lawyer, Samira Salih al-Nuaimi, in the Iraqi city of Mosul after convicting her of apostasy, the UN announced

‘Successful strikes’

The US military said the latest strikes, using fighter jets and drones, had hit “small-scale” refineries that were producing “between 300-500 barrels of refined petroleum per day”.

“We are still assessing the outcome of the attack on the refineries, but have initial indications that the strikes were successful,” the US Central Command said in a statement.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm John Kirby said the purpose of the strikes was “not necessarily to kill militants” but to destroy the facilities, which were funding IS through the black market.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group that monitors the Syrian conflict, said the strikes killed 14 IS fighters in Deir al-Zour and five civilians in Hassakeh.

Kurdish forces said they had pushed back IS fighters near the Syrian town of Kobane, close to the border with Turkey.

There are reports of heavy gunfire outside the town, and Kurdish commanders have again called for coalition air strikes on IS positions in the area.

IS had besieged Kobane for several days, taking control of the surrounding villages and forcing more than 140,000 Syrian Kurds to flee into Turkey.

The BBC’s Mark Lowen, who is on the Syria-Turkey border, says some of those Kurds are now trying to return to Kobane to fight with the Kurdish militia.

Turkey has been overwhelmed by an estimated 1.5 million Syrian and Iraqi refugees since the conflict in Syria between opposition forces and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began three years ago.

Rebel forces have faced several setbacks in recent months amid offensives against them by both IS fighters and Syrian government forces.

On Wednesday, the UN Security Council adopted a binding resolution compelling states to prevent their nationals joining jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

President Obama chaired the session and said nations must prevent the recruitment and financing of foreign fighters.

The US says more than 40 countries have offered to join the anti-IS coalition.

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