The United States military has ramped up its offensives against the Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group in Syria, taking out scores of militant trucks during an aerial raid in the Arab country’s east, according to the New York Times.
The US daily said Monday that American warplanes for the first time attacked hundreds of ISIL trucks earlier in the day that the extremist group has been using to smuggle the crude oil it has been producing in Syria, listening to Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s calls to bomb the ISIS oil fields.
Citing US officials, the NYTimes said an initial assessment showed 116 trucks were destroyed in the attack, which took place near Deir al-Zour, an area controlled by Daesh militants close to Syria’s eastern border with Iraq.
The airstrikes were carried out by four A-10 attack planes and two AC-130 gunships based in Turkey, the paper added.
It said plans for the strike were developed well before the terrorist attacks in and around France’s capital city on Friday, and that the assault is part of a broader operation to disrupt ISIL’s ability to fund its terror offensives.
Daesh is said to generate as much as $40 million a month by producing and exporting oil it steals from the areas under its control.
The report said until Monday, the United States had refrained from striking the ISIL oil fleet, which is estimated to include more than 1,000 tanker trucks, because of concerns about causing civilian casualties.
It noted that the new campaign is called ‘Tidal Wave II’, named after the World War II effort to counter Nazi Germany by striking Romania’s oil industry.
According to the New York Times, which cited an unnamed US military official, a number of tactics were used to reduce the risk of harming civilians. Two F-15s dropped leaflets about an hour before the attack warning drivers to abandon their vehicles.
The area where the trucks assembled in Syria has been closely monitored by US reconnaissance drones. As many as 1,000 trucks have been observed there, waiting to receive their cargo of illicit oil, the report said, adding that at the time of the attack, 295 trucks were in the area, and more than one-third of them were destroyed.
The A-10s dropped two dozen 500-pound bombs and conducted strafing runs with 30-millimeter Gatling guns. The AC-130s attacked with 30-millimeter Gatling guns and 105-millimeter cannons.
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