A third night of US-led air strikes late on Wednesday targeted Islamic State-controlled oil refineries in eastern Syria as the United States and its allies tried to stem a major source of revenue for the Al-Qaeda offshoot, US officials said.
US military forces and partner nations, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), conducted 13 air strikes against 12 modular oil refineries controlled by the Islamic State (formally ISIL) in remote areas of eastern Syria near Mayadin, Hasakah, and Abu Kamal as well as an IS vehicle near Dayr Az Zawr.
According to CNN’s Jim Sciutto, most of the oil refinery air strikes were conducted by jets from Arab nations. The oil installations in eastern Syria helped fund the terrorist group’s brutal rise from rebel faction to alleged global threat.
Furthermore, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told CNN that the refineries were struck with precision-guided missiles by coalition aircraft.
“In fact, there were more coalition aircraft in the skies on these particular missions than US (planes),” he added.
IS militants can make “millions of dollars” a day from the oil refineries they control in Syria and Iraq, according to analyst Michael Stephens from the security think-tank Rusi.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he said it was a sensible strategy for the US to target oil installations controlled by the group.
He said: “At the end of the day if you want to degrade ISIS, you’ve got to cut them off financially as well as militarily. Once you do that they can’t pay their fighters regularly, they can’t pay their civil servants and then as a result the organisation will start to struggle.”
Meanwhile, at least 14 Islamic State fighters were killed in the air strikes, a group monitoring the war said on Thursday.
The strikes also killed at least five civilians, said Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The US-led air strikes on Islamic State militant targets in Syria began on 23 September. The five Arab states in the air strikes coalition are Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the UAE.