ISIS advances on oil fields in Salahaddin, Diyala

Iraqi and Syrian towns and cities seized by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham. Map created by The Long War Journal. Click to view larger map.

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.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • blert says:

    Maliki is losing his civil war…
    And his fellow Shi’ites are sitting there paralysed.
    The loss of the Balad air base means castration for the Iraqi air force. It’s ground zero for that institution.
    The loss of that nation’s critical refinery must gradually immobilize the Shi’ite faction.
    It’s apparent that Turkey is going to be doing (oil) business with both ISIS/ ISIL and the Kurds. Ankara is under the gun financially and is in no position to be picky. The financial pressure has Ankara entirely reversing positions held for decades prior.
    It would take a Bush level of intervention to reverse the flow of this Sunni-Shia conflict. It’s not going to happen.
    Iran has shown (Syria) that it can’t go far nor fast into the Sunni heartland. Iran (and its proxies) just don’t have the logistics to do so.
    (The Muslim martial ethos does not make military logistics at all attractive to talented men.
    In this, they echo the bias of the Germans and Japanese of WWII fame. Whereas the top American in charge of logistics in Europe wore three-stars — and commanded five times as many troops as Bradley, the front commander — The same slot for the German army was held by a colonel. In Africa the American was a two-star the German was a mere major.(!) Similar clout and talent disparities occurred everywhere the Japanese army operated.)
    It’s now the talk that Maliki deployed his weakest formations to Mosul. (!)
    The dictator was, and is, a fool. Is it any wonder that our President doesn’t want to back him up… and has scarcely talked to him?
    Petraeus and McCrystal have no confidence in him, either. They’ve explained that there’s no working with Maliki. He may never be right, but he’s consistent. As long as others are supplying him with resources to squander, Maliki is in clover.
    For some crazy reason, the Shia think that Maliki can turn things around — even though he’s the center of the problem going all the way back.

  • Aezio says:

    I am shocked that the Iranians have not gone through some areas in Syria like crap through a goose. I thought they were professional & fanatical.
    I can see why they would want to train militia, because they cannot win the war for the Syrian government, but I would have expected Iranians to act as shock troops occasionally to break up some formations of the rebels and shatter their morale.
    “(The Muslim martial ethos does not make military logistics at all attractive to talented men.”
    We speak of the Carolingian Empire, because it was well planned. Logistics were planned a year in advance iof a campain.
    Logistics extended down to the people conscripted into the army. Four farms we grouped together. When one of the 4 farmers was away on campaign the other 3 farmers farmed the land for him.
    As an aside think if the Roman republic had done this. there would be no legionaires coming back for campaign of a year or more finding the wife had the family in debt or sold the farm to feed the family. Longer campaigns led to income inequality and destroyed the yeomanry of the Roman Republic. The Roman Republic fell even as it defeated its” enemies from social forces within.
    That is how important Logistics is.


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