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US airstrikes target IS-held oil refineries in Syria

© USAF: Three F-18 attack aircraft flying over Iraq on September 23

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-09-25

A third night of US-led air strikes late on Wednesday targeted oil refineries in eastern Syria controlled by militants of the Islamic State group (IS), in a bid to choke off a crucial source of revenue for the militants.

US, Saudi and Emirati warplanes broadened their bombardment to target the oil installations in eastern Syria that have helped fund the jihadist group's brutal rise from rebel faction to alleged global threat.

The raids focused on 12 targets in eastern Syria, where the IS extremists control small-scale oil refineries.

"These 12 targets were what we call modular oil refineries," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told CNN.

"They 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 said.

Alongside US aviation and cruise missiles, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan have hit targets in Syria and France in Iraq. Qatar is providing logistical support.

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

Modular refineries are prefabricated and constructed off-site so they can be transported and made operational quickly. The US military said the refineries were capable of producing millions in revenue and provided fuel for the group's operations.

"These small-scale refineries provided fuel to run (IS) operations, money to finance their continued attacks throughout Iraq and Syria, and an economic asset to support their future operations," the military said.

IS group earns ‘$1 million a day’

It is unclear how much crude or refined oil the Islamic State group is managing to sell. The group is producing less than 100,000 barrels of crude oil a day, Adam Sieminski, the head of the US Energy Information Administration, told Reuters.

That might be worth up to $9.6 million on global energy markets. But estimates on the size of the group's revenues are significantly lower.

Nicholas Rasmussen, deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center, testified to Congress this month that the Islamic State group’s war chest probably included about $1 million a day in revenues from black-market oil sales as well as smuggling, robberies, and ransom payments for hostages.

Speaking at the United Nations, US President Barack Obama singled out the goal of choking off Islamic State group financing as he asked the world to join together to fight the militants and vowed to keep up military pressure against them.

"We will work to cut off their financing, and to stop the flow of fighters into and out of the region," Obama said in a 40-minute speech to the General Assembly, in which he urged world leaders gathered to join his coalition and convinced the Security Council to back a resolution to stem the flow of foreign fighters to the IS group.

Belgium and the Netherlands committed warplanes to Iraq and Britain said its parliament would vote Friday on following suit.

"The United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death," Obama told the UN about the Islamic State group, which has grabbed vast areas of Iraq and Syria.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)

Date created : 2014-09-25

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