BEIRUT (AFP) – The US-led coalition destroyed three makeshift oil refineries in militant-controlled territory in Syria early on Sunday as it pressed efforts to deny Islamic State (IS) militants funding, a monitoring group said.
The coalition strikes hit close by the Turkish frontier, near the town of Tal Abyad just across the border fence from the Turkish town of Akcakale, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
They came after at least a dozen strikes on Thursday night on the refinery infrastructure that the militants have developed in the swathe of territory they control in eastern Syria, which includes many of the country’s main oil fields.
“At least three makeshift refineries under IS control in the Tal Abyad region were destroyed overnight,” the Observatory said.
“IS had been refining crude and selling it to Turkish buyers,” said the Britain-based watchdog, which has a broad network of sources inside Syria.
An F-22A Raptor prepares to leave the hangar and taxi off the runway at the US Central Command’s area of responsibility, as part of a series of airstrikes being conducted by an international coalition against militants of the Islamic State terror group, in Syria, September 24 – AFP
Before the launch of US-led air strikes on IS in Syria last Tuesday analysts say the militants were earning as much as $3 million a day from oil revenues.
Output from IS-controlled fields stood at 80,000 barrels per day, far exceeding the 17,000 barrels per day the Syrian oil ministry said it was pumping.
The strikes around Tal Abyad came after Saturday raids on the Kurdish town of Ain al-Arab, also very close to the Turkish border.
The town, known as Kobane in Kurdish, has been under assault by IS for more than a week, sparking an exodus of at least 160,000 refugees into Turkey.
The coalition also kept up its raids on the militant heartland province of Raqa early Sunday as it pressed what Washington says are “near continuous” strikes.
The raids destroyed a plastics factory outside Raqa city, killing one civilian, the Observatory said.