US, allies launching more airstrikes in Syria

AP News
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Posted: Sep 24, 2014 6:11 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. and two Arab allies took aim Wednesday at a key source of financing for Islamic State militants, bombing 12 of the oil refineries controlled by the terrorist group in Syria, the military said.

Black market oil contributes up to $2 million a day to the militant group, and the attacks targeted the small-scale refineries in remote sections of eastern Syria in an effort to choke off its funding. U.S. Central Command said the refineries produce between 300 barrels and 500 barrels of refined petroleum daily.

According to a U.S. official, the strikes by the U.S., Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates air forces targeted the infrastructure surrounding the oil platforms, including barracks and other support structures that are key to the refinery operations. Some of the refinery towers may remain standing, the official said, but the attacks went after the systems needed to operate the machinery.

The official said the strikes took out a majority of the group's oil refineries, and that the two Arab nations conducted a majority of the airstrikes. The U.S. also provided surveillance aircraft. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the mission.

"The destruction and degradation of these targets further limits ISIL's ability to lead, control, project power and conduct operations," U.S. Central Command said in a news release, using one of the acronyms for the Islamic State group.

The strikes were a continuation of the broader military campaign that began Monday against the militant group. Four Arab nations — Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and United Arab Emirates — participated in those strikes, and Qatar supported the attacks.

As of Tuesday, according to Central Command, the U.S. had conducted airstrikes that hit at least 20 locations in Syria. Combat aircraft flew 64 sorties.