Army Col. Steve Warren, the spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition that has been bombing the Islamic State, claimed on Monday that the terror state’s lucrative oil export business has been largely shut down by airstrikes.
“Coalition forces curbed ISIS capacity in the export of oil by 90 percent,” said Warren, as quoted by the Kurdish Rudaw news service.
Warren went on to count nine thousand air strikes in Iraq and Syria during 2015, killing thousands of ISIS militants and destroying hundreds of shelters and buildings. He said 40 percent of the land captured in Iraq by ISIS has been recaptured by Iraqi ground forces, with a major offensive coming soon to retake the city of Ramadi.
Critics of the Obama Administration’s ISIS policy note that until this year, only 31 percent of the planes flying over Islamic State targets actually dropped their bombs, and this year it’s only up to 46 percent, which leads many to question why such an announcement took so long to happen.
Also, press conferences announcing great success in “degrading and ultimately destroying” the Islamic State are a staple of this bizarrely ineffective conflict, going all the way back to the beginning. In October, the very same Col. Warren told reporters that Islamic State fighters were “afraid to move around the battlefield” in Iraq and Syria, but they are still coming back to threaten cities like Sadad, and making big moves into Libya.
There is some cause for optimism this time, as several weeks of reports from the Middle East have insisted the coalition campaign against ISIS oil intensified significantly after the Paris terror attack. As CNN noted two weeks ago, the plunge of worldwide oil prices is also hitting ISIS in the wallet.
However, CNN also said ISIS was still “well funded,” as it now gets a large share of its revenue through “mafia-like taxes that could bring in as much as $800 million this year.” Counter-terrorism expert Martin Reardon told CNN it was “not likely” the Islamic State could be toppled solely by targeting its oil business.