US coalition slashes ISIS oil revenue
Militant group’s chief source of funds cut 90%
USA TODAY WASHINGTON The U.S.-led coalition battling the Islamic State has slashed the militant group’s oil revenues by more than 90 percent over the past two years, all but cutting off its chief source of funds, coalition statistics show.
Islamic State oil production in Iraq and Syria has been cut to less than $4 million a month from a peak of $50 million, according to statistics the coalition provided to USA TODAY.
After sweeping through Syria and Iraq in 2014, the Islamic State seized oil to fund global terror campaigns and governance of its self-proclaimed “caliphate.”
Oil accounted for about half of the group’s revenue. The rest came from looting an estimated $500 million from banks and extorting money from residents trapped in cities occupied by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
Those sources of money are drying up, too, as the militants have been expelled from most major cities and much of their stores of stolen cash has been spent or destroyed by coalition forces.
“Losing half their revenues means a lot,” Andrew Tabler, an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said of the oil money.
“Their territory is shrinking and so is their ability to tax people,” Tabler said.
The coalition began a targeted campaign aimed at the Islamic State’s oil business in 2015.
That air campaign has destroyed more than 2,500 tanker trucks operated by the militants, and targeted mobile refineries and other oil infrastructure linked to the group, according to the coalition statistics.
Some of the bombs are small and designed to disable the refineries without destroying them so they can be rebuilt once the remaining ISIS fighters have been expelled.
“The coalition has regularly conducted strikes against ISIS and their oil production capabilities to degrade their ability to generate revenue from oil resources and facilities,” the coalition said in a statement.