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Recent Iraqi military gains over the Islamic State have dried up oil revenues for the terrorist organization by up to 90 percent, according to a report by Iraqi News on Tuesday.
Security sources from the ministry of oil said ISIS had been smuggling at least 50 vehicles full of oil everyday from oilfields in Qayyarah and Najma. The two sites stand south of Mosul—the largest ISIS stronghold and the third largest city in Iraq by population.
But new offensives against the terrorist organization have reduced the smuggling rate to five vehicles a day. ISIS’ prices for the smuggled oil, which once stood above $6,000 a vehicle, have now been reduced to $2,000.
After ISIS lost control of the Alas and Hamrin oilfields near Tikrit last April, the group’s income declined by an additional $1 million every day.
Yesterday, news broke that ISIS fighters may have been responsible for the deaths of five people in an oilfield located in the Kurdish city of Kirkuk, though the organization has not yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
The attackers attempted to take down a gas compression station nearby as well, where they planted bombs after killing four guards. The fifth victim was an engineer working at Bas Hassan, a media report read, citing Iraqi and Kurdish sources.
Sources from the Kurdish military forces, the Peshmerga, said that the attack on the gas station was neutralized and that three of the four ISIS terrorists involved in the double hit were killed, one of them managing to blow himself up, causing explosions in oil storage tanks at Bas Hassan. The fourth terrorist escaped.
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There have been suggestions that the attackers belonged to a sleeper cell based in the oil-rich region of Kirkuk in northern Iraq.
ISIS attacks on Kurdish territory have been more rare than elsewhere in Iraq. Yet, the terrorist group is now being driven out of some important strongholds by the Iraqi army (and by the Syrian forces in Syria), cutting its access to oil, on which it is no less dependent than both Baghdad and Erbil.
Just earlier this month, ISIS set five oilfields on fire near Mosul, one of the first major cities that fell to the terrorists back in 2014.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…