The US-led coalition announced today that four members of the Islamic State’s oil and gas network were targeted and killed during “operations” on May 26.
Abu Khattab al-Iraqi, the ringleader of this network, “managed revenue generation through the illicit sale of oil and gas,” according to Combined Joint Force Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR). The “other three men killed, Abu Yusuf al-Hashimi, Abu Hajir Milhim, and Abu Hiba al-Maghrebi, facilitated these operations.”
“The death of these Daesh [ISIS] members hinders the terrorist group’s ability to finance operations throughout Iraq and Syria,” CJTF-OIR says. “With the removal of this network, the ability to pay fighters, procure weapons, and maintain equipment will be degraded.”
CJTF-OIR indicates that the operation took place in the Middle Euphrates River Valley. The US and its allies have repeatedly targeted Islamic State figures in eastern Syria after the so-called caliphate relocated much of its senior personnel to the area from elsewhere.
Since early 2017, US authorities have identified a number of Islamic State commanders hunted down in the area. The deceased jihadists include one of Baghdadi’s most senior lieutenants, a top ideologue, weapons engineers, propagandists and “external operations” planners. External attacks target the West and other areas outside of the Islamic State’s strongholds.
In addition, the US government has added other Islamic State leaders operating in eastern Syria to its list of designated terrorists.
US-backed forces are not the only ones fighting the jihadists in eastern Syria. Bashar al Assad’s regime and his international allies are as well. This has often led to tensions between the two rival coalitions.
On June 18, CJTF-OIR denied that it had carried out an airstrike “near Albu Kamal, Syria that killed and wounded several members of an unidentified force” fighting on the same side as the Assad regime. Citing a US official, CNN first reported that the bombing was conducted by Israel on June 17.
Separately, in southern Syria, CJTF-OIR announced that its partners seized and destroyed drugs with a “black market value of” $1.4 million. The drug cache “included more than 300,000 pills of Captagon, an illegal drug frequently trafficked and used by Daesh [ISIS] members.”
The US-led coalition explained that Captagon is a widely-banned and “highly-addictive amphetamine-based drug,” which is “informally referred to as the ‘jihadists’ drug.'” The drugs were seized by the “Coalition’s Maghawir al- Thowra partners during counter-Daesh operations within the 55km deconfliction zone near At Tanf, Syria May 31.”