The Obama Administration and its allied partners in the Middle East conducted airstrikes in eastern Syria Wednesday night against the extremist group ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), in which they targeted oil refineries.
The Pentagon said that the U.S. conducted 13 airstrikes overnight on Wednesday which targeted 12 oil refineries in eastern Syria controlled by the terror group the Islamic State.
U.S. Central Command hailed the strikes as a success. “We are still assessing the outcome of the attack on the refineries, but have initial indications that the strikes were successful,” they stated. The “initial indications” may be the Department of Defense before and after photos of the refineries, which look utterly demolished.
Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby stated that 16 fighter jets were used in the air strikes, six of which were from the U.S. The rest were from a coalition of Arab nations allied with the U.S. to fight ISIS. These include Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates.
Syrian President Bashar Assad stated that ISIS has taken control of hundreds of Syrian oil wells, previously controlled by the government and some by rebels fighting Assad’s regime in the civil war that’s raged for over three years. According to President Assad, the country has lost nearly $4 billion in oil profits to the Islamic State.
Data from the Pentagon reaffirmed this, and said that ISIS makes nearly $2 million per day selling oil seized from eastern Syria. Furthermore, according to the Brookings Institute, ISIS now controls approximately 60 percent of Syria’s oil fields and exports.
The Islamic State’s immense wealth from their oil exports is worrisome to their opposition, be it the U.S., Europe, or neighboring Middle Eastern nations. Not only can the Islamic State afford to finance their war and expansion, but their fortune is appealing to new recruits. U.S. Central Command said in a statement: “These small-scale refineries provided fuel to run ISIL operations, money to finance their continued attacks throughout Iraq and Syria, and an economic asset to support their future operations.”
The rest of the world is worried enough that unlikely allies are joining in the fight. On Friday, Russia pledged help to Iraq against ISIS, staying cautious about intervening in Syria, a Russian ally. The U.K. Parliament on Friday also agreed to take military action against the terror group.
Collin Heatley is a fourth-year student majoring in history. He can be reached at CH761384@wcupa.edu.