US military leaders say Syrian oil revenues to ISIS have been drastically cut by US-led coalition air strikes.
The Da’esh (ISIS) oil infrastructure in Syria has been crippled as a result of the attacks, according to a briefing by U.S. military spokesperson Col. Steve Warren Tuesday in Baghdad.
And yet, those oil facilities are only crippled — they’re still not out for the count, Warren acknowledged. “It’s not a knockout,” he said. “It’s a body blow.”
A month of air strikes has largely shut down the oil facilities at Deir ez-Zor, which provides about two-thirds of the oil revenue for Da’esh, Warren said.
But the goal is not really to destroy the structures anyway.
According to Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the aim is to prevent Da’esh from producing and shipping oil while keeping the infrastructure relatively intact so it can be restored once the war in Syria is over, USA Today reported.
The black gold once provided billions of dollars to the Syrian government, which charged fees to companies from Russia, Britain, China, and the Netherlands. Syria also owned and operated its own oil wells as well, most of which were located in Deir ez-Zor, in the eastern part of the country.
That region is now controlled by Da’esh, which the Treasury estimated sells discounted oil on the black market for half a billion dollars a year. At least half of the terror group’s revenue is raised from the sale of oil, according to the Pentagon. Da’esh also controls oil-producing regions in Iraq.
On Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry held a briefing in Moscow to present maps, photographs and other materials as evidence to support accusations by President Vladimir Putin that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family are importing black market oil from ISIS-controlled territories in Syria and Iraq.
Erdogan denied the allegations, aimed at him during a conversation with reporters on the sidelines of the COP-21 climate change conference in Paris. The Turkish president vowed to resign if Putin could prove his claims were true.Hana Levi Julian