WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2015 —
coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant unleashed a wave of
attacks targeting ISIL's oil distribution chain, disrupting a source of revenue
for the terrorists, an Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman said today
Speaking to Pentagon
reporters via teleconference from Baghdad, Army Col. Steve Warren said the
coalition destroyed 116 tanker trucks in Abu Kamal in eastern Syria.
The aim of Operation Tidal
Wave II, Warren said, is to target ISIL's entire oil distribution chain, which
includes trucks, wellheads, pumps and collection points.
"This was an
extraordinarily ... effective operation," he said, noting it was the
coalition's first strike against tanker trucks.
"This was not a
piecemeal execution; this was a sudden strike. This was a tidal wave that swept
across these oil fields and it really crippled them," Warren said.
The execution of Tidal
Wave II was similar to the way Tidal Wave I was carried out in the 1940s
against Nazi oil fields in Romania, he said.
The truck drivers were
likely not members of ISIL, but rather civilians, he said.
To minimize the risk to
the drivers, the coalition members dropped leaflets and flew low past the
trucks to warn of the impending military operation, Warren said. The strike was
carried out by A-10 Thunderbolt II fighters and AC-130 Hercules gunships.
"We know that oil
funds more than 50 percent of ISIL's operations," he said. "We need
to take this away from them so that their operations are more difficult to
Syrian Forces Reclaim Ground from ISIL
Syrian democratic forces
liberated Hawl Nov. 14, the spokesman said.
"ISIL held Al Hawl
for the last nine months, but they retreated as the Syrian democratic forces
approached," Warren said.
The Syrian democratic forces,
he said, capitalized on the retreat and reclaimed nearly 200 small villages
from ISIL control.
During the two-week
campaign for Hawl, friendly forces reclaimed 730 square kilometers of territory,
Warren said. The coalition conducted 79 airstrikes in support, killing more
than 300 enemy fighters and destroying 105 ISIL fighting positions, he added.
In addition, Warren said,
members of the New Syrian Forces who were trained by the coalition conducted a
mortar raid on an ISIL stronghold in the tri-border area. They destroyed five
buildings and a weapons cache.
The spokesman said this
was the first mission of its kind in southern Syria.
Partner in France
Warren highlighted the
contributions from France to the coalition, and sent condolences for last week's
that we certainly felt here. This is a coalition that over time becomes a lot
like a family, so our thoughts and our prayers and our hearts are very much
with the French," he said.
The French aircraft
carrier Charles de Gaulle, which is on its way to the area, will add
significant strike capability to the coalition, Warren noted.
The overarching objective
of the coalition efforts is to partner with ground forces, enable them to
conduct offensive operations, and provide coalition air power to the offensive
operations, he explained.
"As indigenous, friendly
forces maneuver against our enemy, it causes our enemy to move. The enemy has
to react," Warren said. "As soon as the enemy reacts, we kill them
from the air."
Military leaders have to
carefully weigh how to execute operations against the terrorists while avoiding
civilian casualties, he said.
"This enemy is
ruthless; they are brutal; they are sadistic. They kill and torture for
fun," Warren said. "This is a very difficult balance that we have to
do and it's something that we wrestle with every single day."
Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)