Islamic State militants attacked checkpoints at a group of oil fields in northern Iraq, killing two members of the security force deployed there and injuring three, Reuters reports, citing a statement from the Iraqi army.
“Elements of the terrorist Daesh gangs attacked two security checkpoints in the Alas oilfields area of Salahuddin province, and an improvised explosive device blew up a vehicle belonging to security forces stationed there, leading to the martyrdom of two of them,” the military said.
The statement added that the attackers were being pursued by the Iraqi military along with the Popular Mobilization Forces, a group of Iran-backed Shiite paramilitary organizations.
The Alaas oilfield, the largest in the group, used to be a major source of income for IIslamic State while it controlled that part of Iraq, Reuters recalls, adding that Iraq drove IS out in late 2017.
This is not the first attack on the oilfield this year. In March, Iraqi security forced managed to thwart an attempt by Islamic State members to attack the field, which the terrorist group set on fire during its retreat in 2017. Related: Higher Oil Exports Insufficient To Cut Brimming Venezuelan Stocks
Since its defeat in 2017, Islamic State has adopted a hit-and-run strategy to try and destabilize the Iraqi government, with kidnappings, car bombings, assassinations of local community leaders and attacks on the grid among its preferred attack of choice.
Yet oil infrastructure is a natural target for the group as a means of faster destabilization, especially now that disgruntled citizens are protesting the government’s failure to improve living conditions, notably in Iraq’s richest oil region in the south.
Iraq’s oil production hit a record-high of 4.88 million barrels daily this August despite its stated commitment to comply with OPEC-wide production cuts. The Iraqi government also has ambitions to increase this further to 5 million bpd and more, despite challenges that have to do not just with the political situation but with the lack of sufficient production infrastructure.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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