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Coalition Aircraft Disable ISIL Refineries in Syria

By Claudette Roulo DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2014 — Ten fighter aircraft from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates joined six U.S. jets yesterday in attacks on oil refineries in eastern Syria controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Pentagon press secretary said today.

Initial assessments are that the strikes were successful in rendering all 12 of the targeted modular refineries inoperable, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said at a Pentagon news conference.

“These small-scale refineries provide fuel to run ISIL operations, money to finance their continued attacks throughout Iraq and Syria, and they are an economic asset to support future operations,” the admiral said. “Producing between 300 and 500 barrels of refined petroleum per day, ISIL is estimated by some regional organizations to generate millions of dollars of revenue from these refineries.”

The coalition aircraft were responsible for 80 percent of the explosive effect on the targets, Kirby noted.

“These precision-guided munitions, as you know, come in various sizes and forms and tonnage, and the coalition aircraft were flying with heavier tonnage, by and large -- heavier tonnage bombs than we were,” he explained.

Strategic intent

The strikes were intended to disable the refineries, not destroy them, the admiral said. “We’re trying to remove the means through which this organization sustains itself,” he said.

“These refineries were in place before ISIL came along,” he added. “And assuming that Syria gets to a point where it's better governed, you know, we'd like to preserve the flexibility for those refineries to still contribute to a stable economy in what we hope will be a stable country when the Assad regime is not in control anymore.”

Until a time when the refineries can be used by a moderate opposition, he said, the airstrikes will stop the refineries from being used to produce petroleum or to serve as communications or berthing areas.

Troop deployment

About 500 soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division headquarters element, based at Fort Riley, Kansas, will be deploying to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in October, Kirby said. About 200 of those soldiers will deploy to Baghdad and Irbil as part of the increase of 475 U.S. service members that President Barack Obama announced Sept. 10, he said, and rest will be based in the Centcom area of responsibility, but not in Iraq.

The troops in Iraq will provide command and-control for the ongoing advise-and-assist mission for Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces, the admiral said.

(Follow Claudette Roulo on Twitter: @roulododnews)