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The Syrian Arab Army staged an offensive this week to recapture oil-rich areas of the Al-Raqqa governorate that had previously been under the shadow of the Islamic State (ISIS), according to local reports.
The area is home to the Jararih oilfield near Salaam ‘Alaykum village, a military report said. An attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military eliminated ISIS elements from the field early this week.
Syria’s oil resources have exchanged hands several times since 2014, when ISIS declared its caliphate in parts of both Syria and Iraq. Initially, the terrorist group was able to use revenues from oil processing facilities to fund its illicit operations. International coalition forces soon recaptured oilfields and refineries, cutting into ISIS’ bottom line and forcing it to cut operational costs and salaries for its fighters.
A recent police investigation suggested the Italian mafia may have teamed up with ISIS to smuggle crude oil from the Middle East into Italy. An Italian daily noted earlier this month that the police had found substantial amounts of Libyan and Syrian crude that were greater than some local refineries’ inventories, with sources connected with the investigation saying that crude, “should not have been there.”
In Iraq, the military is also kicking ISIS out of its few remaining pieces of oil infrastructure. Last week, Iraqi military forces retook two villages and an oil refinery on the outskirts of Tal Afar in northwestern Iraq, according to media reports. The troops encircled terrorists in the last stronghold of ISIS in the Nineveh province.
The Global Coalition against ISIS welcomed Iraq’s launch of the offensive on Tal Afar, and said it would support Iraq’s government and forces with training, intelligence, precision fires, and combat advice. Over the weekend, the coalition hit ISIS positions at Tal Afar and destroyed ISIS vehicles, roadblocks, and weapons.
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…