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US and Allied Aircraft Strike Islamic State Oil Assets

An F/A-18C Hornet, attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 87, prepares to launch from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) to conduct strike missions against ISIL targets. (U.S. Navy photo)
An F/A-18C Hornet, attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 87, prepares to launch from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) to conduct strike missions against ISIL targets. (U.S. Navy photo)

U.S. and coalition aircraft launched the first airstrikes against the oil assets of the Islamic State Wednesday, hitting what the Pentagon called "modular oil refineries" in eastern Syria.

The attacks hit about a dozen targets and were believed to have destroyed equipment that provided about $2 million daily in oil revenue to the terror group, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary.

Aircraft flown by pilots from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia outnumbered those from the U.S. in what was the third strike inside Syria, Kirby said. He did not specify how many aircraft participated but said they all flew from airfields in the region which he declined to identify.

White House and U.S. intelligence officials have estimated that IS brings in about $3 million daily in profits from black market oil revenue. In his address to the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday, President Obama called on the nations of the world to join in cutting off IS funding and money laundering.

Kirby said that "there will be more" airstrikes specifically targeting IS revenue sources.

In a statement, U.S. Central Command officials said that the modular oil refineries were located "in remote areas of eastern Syria in the vicinity of Al Mayadin, Al Hasakah, and Abu Kamal."

"We are still assessing the outcome of the attack on the refineries, but have initial indications that the strikes were successful," CentCom officials said.

"These small-scale refineries provided fuel to run ISIL operations, money to finance their continued attacks throughout Iraq and Syria, and an economic asset to support their future operations."

Earlier, CentCom reported that the coalition of the U.S. and five Arab states had carried out five airstrikes on a range of targets Tuesday and Wednesday - four strikes in Iraq and one in Syria.

The first airstrikes in Syria were conducted Monday when U.S. and coalition aircraft, and Navy warships firing Tomahawk cruise missiles, struck Islamic State targets in northern and eastern Syria and strongholds of the Khorasn terror group in the western town of Aleppo.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@monster.com

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