While the blitzkrieg of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham and its allies that saw the groups take control of Mosul on June 10 and quickly approach the outskirts of Samarra has slowed considerably, the advance has not stopped. ISIS continues to attack in Diyala and Salahaddin provinces, and has set its sights on oil infrastructure.
Yesterday, ISIS took control of the Ajeel oil wells, which lie east of Tikrit and Bayji in Salahaddin provinces. There are four wells listed in the area: Ajeel, Ajeel 6, Ajeel 24, and Ajeel North 1, and they put out an estimated 28,000 barrels of oil per day. In addition, a natural gas field, also called Ajeel, is situated near the wells.
Today ISIS took control of the town of Mansouriyat al-Jabal, which is just north of the city of Miqdadiyah in Diyala province. An oil well known as Mansuriyah 1 is operated near the town.
The status of Iraq’s largest oil refinery, the Bayji facility in Salahaddin province, is now questionable, as ISIS is said to control large areas of the sprawling facility. And across the border in Syria, ISIS is said to have taken control of the Al Omar oil field and facility in Deir al Zour province near the town of Al Mayadin.
Additionally, ISIS is said to be laying siege to Balad Air Base, a major Iraqi Air Force facility just north of Baghdad, as well as advancing on the Haditha Dam, which produces power and controls the flow of water to the south.
Keep in mind that ISIS is unlikely to destroy the oil facilities, the dam, the airbase, and any other infrastructure that may come under its control. ISIS’ ultimate goal is to establish an Islamic state in Iraq and Syria (hence its name, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham). ISIS profits greatly from revenue produced from oil facilities, and needs other infrastructure to manage its state. ISIS is known to have “oil experts” to help with the extraction, transportation, and sale of oils.
If, by some chance, Iraqi forces are able to regroup and advance on ISIS’ newly-held infrastructure, only then may the group destroy it as part of a scorched earth tactic of retreat.