Islamic State militants set ablaze on Saturday three oil wells near an area still under their control west of the oil city Kirkuk, to try to stop the advance of U.S.-backed Iraqi forces that are driving them out of one of their last positions in Iraq, oil and military officials told Reuters on Monday.
The ISIS terrorists have torched the three fields near Hawija, and Iraqi security forces used bulldozers to control the fires. The blaze at one of the oil fields has been controlled, while the other two fields were still burning as of Monday. According to military officials who spoke to Reuters, putting out the fires will take three days or so.
“Terrorists are trying to use the rising smoke to avert air strikes while retreating from the area toward Hawija,” army Colonel Mohammed al-Jabouri told Reuters.
Last month, the Iraqi Security Forces started operations to liberate western Anbar and Hawija, the two final locations in Iraq where ISIS still holds territory.
“During the past week, the coalition has supported the ISF with 28 strikes on ISIS targets in Hawija and another 37 strikes in Western Anbar. It is clear that ISIS terrorists are overwhelmed and outmatched by the strength of the ISF. Daesh is losing ground and are failing in every battle, and soon, ISIS will have no sanctuary anywhere in Iraq,” Colonel Ryan Dillon, the spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said on September 21. Related: Saudis Lead Gulf Movement To Diversify Away From Oil
The Allas oil field just south of Hawija has been one of the main sources of revenue for Islamic State militants.
Over the past two years, the U.S.-led coalition that is fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria has managed to cut the militants’ oil revenues to less than US$4 million monthly from a peak of US$50 million, statistics by the coalition provided to USA TODAY show.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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