The U.S-led coalition fighting Islamic State has killed the leader of the militants responsible for its oil and gas smuggling operations, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials said on Tuesday.
Abu Khattab al-Iraqi, the leader of ISIS’s oil network who managed revenue generation through the illicit sale of oil and gas, was killed in Syria’s Middle Euphrates River Valley on May 26, together with three other ISIS members affiliated with its oil and gas operations.
“The death of these ISIS members hinders the terrorist group’s ability to finance operations throughout Iraq and Syria. With the removal of this network, the ability to pay fighters, procure weapons and maintain equipment will be degraded,” the U.S. Department of Defense said.
Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) is committed to defeating ISIS and setting conditions for follow-on operations to increase regional stability, the task force said.
The coalition reclaimed a lot of territory from ISIS in eastern and northern Syria last year, including Raqqa—the terrorists’ self-proclaimed capital of their ‘caliphate’. The CJTF-OIR coalition continues to fight the Islamist militants in desert areas east of the river Euphrates.
According to a recent investigation by The New York Times, contrary to what has been assumed so far, black market oil sales were not the only and not even the largest revenue stream for ISIS. According to documents analyzed by the NYT, the Islamic State was able to hold onto vast swaths of Iraq and Syria between 2014 and 2017 because it taxed almost every business and production under its rule, and was not trying to replace government agencies and employees, but would rather have them continue to work.
Documents recovered in Syria showed that the ratio of income earned from taxes compared to proceeds from oil sales was 6:1, according to experts asked by the NYT for analysis.