The US-led coalition targeted "Islamic State" (IS)-controlled oil refineries with airstrikes on Wednesday night and the early hours of Thursday, a strategy designed to cut off the terror group's oil-smuggling revenues, US defense officials said.
The US, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates took part in the airstrikes, which struck 12 targets in eastern Syria where the Islamic State controls "small-scale" refineries. The strikes were believed to have been successful, according to United States Central Command.
The Islamic State took control of the refineries as it seized large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq this summer. US intelligence estimates the group takes in at least $1 million a day from its oil smuggling activities.
"These small-scale refineries provided fuel to run ISIL (IS) operations, money to finance their continued attacks throughout Iraq and Syria, and an economic asset to support their future operations," US Central Command said in a statement.
According to military officials, the refineries were pre-fabricated and constructed off-site with the aim of facilitating transportation, and to make the refineries operational quickly.
The refineries have an output of roughly 300 to 500 barrels of refined petroleum a day. The destruction of the refineries will degrade the Islamic State's ability to “lead, control, project power and conduct operations,” according to Central Command.
US President Barack Obama highlighted the need to choke off financing for Islamic State activities in a 40-minute speech at the United Nations, on Wednesday.
"We will work to cut off their financing, and to stop the flow of fighters into and out of the region," Obama said.
The latest round of airstrikes utilized a combination of fighter jets and unmanned drone aircraft. At least 14 militants and five civilians were killed in airstrikes across Syria overnight, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
"The only language understood by killers like [the Islamic State] is the language of force, so the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death," Obama said at the United Nations.
bw/lw (AFP, Reuters)