19 November 2015 – US-led air strikes have reportedly hit at least 177 targets in the Islamic State’s (Isis) main oil-producing region over the past month, as Washington intensifies efforts to disrupt a key revenue source for the terrorist group.
The strikes include 116 oil tanker trucks hit by coalition forces earlier this week as the US targeted the vehicles for the first time in the wake of last Friday’s suicide and shooting attacks in Paris claimed by Islamic State.
The stepped-up bombing campaign has also targeted oil and gas separation plants, oil rigs, pumps and storage tanks, according to a Reuters tally of air strikes provided by the Pentagon since 22 October.
The campaign marks a more aggressive US approach. Such targets had previously been considered off limits by the US-led coalition as it sought to avoid civilian casualties and limit the damage to oil infrastructure that could be needed later by a new Syrian government.
The Pentagon said the air strikes in Syria have inflicted “significant damage” to Islamic State’s ability to fund itself. Dubbed “Tidal Wave II”, the strikes have been concentrated on oil facilities near Dayr Az Zawr and Abu Kamal, which provide an estimated two-thirds of Islamic State’s oil revenue, Reuters reported.
The goal this time is to knock oilfields out of commission for a year or more without destroying them completely. That would deprive the extremist group of revenues but allow oil resources to be accessed by other forces if and when Isis is forced out of the territory it currently occupies.
Isis is thought to bring in more than $1 million a day in oil revenues.