Hasakah – As the US-backed Iraqi forces continued to push into Mosul city, the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group started exporting Iraqi oil to Syria.
On Monday, at least eight ISIS oil tankers crossed the border into Syria’s northeastern town of Margada, informed sources told ARA News.
“This is the third convoy [of oil tankers] to arrive in Margada in a week, coming from ISIS-controlled areas in Iraq’s northwestern Nineveh Governorate,” a local media activist said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Margada is the Islamic State’s last stronghold in Hasakah Governorate. It is located on the administrative border between Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor Governorates.
“After crossing the Iraqi-Syrian border into Margada town, most of the oil tankers head to Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa, apparently to be sold to locals,” Reshwan Anabi, a Syrian citizen, told ARA News in Margada.
The US-led coalition has earlier bombed dozens of ISIS oil tankers in Syria, in a bid to eliminate one of the group’s main resources.
In December, 2016, the coalition destroyed a fleet of 168 ISIS oil tankers near Palmyra city in Syria’s central Homs Governorate in the largest air strike of its kind to date.
“The Coalition continues to forcefully prosecute the air war on ISIS revenue capability,” said coalition spokesman Col. John L. JD Dorrian in a statement to ARA News.
When ISIS has access to large sums of money, they use it to conduct violent terror attacks “against anyone who doesn’t share their barbaric ideology,” according to Dorrian.
“The Coalition is systematically targeting ISIS-affiliated oil infrastructure to eliminate millions of dollars in potential revenue. This most recent strike resulted in estimated lost revenue of more than $2 million,” the coalition said in December.
According to the US-led coalition, stopping or severely hampering ISIS cash flow degrades their ability to fund the war effort in Iraq and Syria and terrorist attacks around the world.
Washington-based Middle East researcher at the Centre for a New American Security, Nicholas Heras, stressed that oil is important for the ISIS self-proclaimed Caliphate.
“Oil is a crucial source of revenue for ISIS, which funds its ability to make payments to its fighters and to provide social welfare to the tribes it rules over in eastern Syria,” Heras told ARA News.
“Attacking ISIS’ oil revenues weakens its ability to maintain the statelet it is governing, and could lead to increased dissent against its rule that leads to rebellion against it in eastern Syria,” he said. “This would facilitate the Coalition campaign greatly, and could prevent the need to introduce U.S. ground troops in eastern Syria.”
Reporting by: Qehreman Miste and Ehmed Sawes | Source: ARA News