America Sets its Sights on Syrian Pipelines

U.S. officials are trying to strip the Islamic State of its resources. The group is considered to be the richest terrorist organization to ever exist. According to Julieta Valls Noyes, a representative of the U.S. State Department, Washington is examining the feasibility of carrying out airstrikes against Syrian oil pipelines that, according to U.S. estimates, are providing a significant portion of the Islamic radicals’ revenue. Yesterday, President Putin condemned the illegal sale of fossil fuels at throwaway prices and called on others not to buy oil from the militants. However, experts in Moscow consider the American methods of combating these illegal sales to be hardly appropriate.

Yesterday the British media reported on the likelihood of American Air Force strikes on Syrian pipelines in reference to deputy assistant secretary to the United States for Europe and Eurasian Affairs, Julieta Valls Noyes, who as part of her visit to London declared that the Islamic State’s illegal sale of oil is of increasing concern to the U.S. and as such the American military may in the near future to carry out “kinetic strikes against some of the pipelines.”

The U.S.-led international coalition has already moved from word to deed by bombing oil production facilities in Syria. A representative of the State Department made this announcement the day after coalition aircraft carried out four strikes against oil wells in the Jafra field in the country’s east that had fallen under the control of militants.

In the United States, the Islamic State group has been called the wealthiest terrorist group in history. American experts estimate that they have amassed capital at an exceedingly fast pace; collecting over $1 million a day thanks to oil smuggling from their controlled territories. A significant portion of this revenue is located in the eastern part of Syria. According to David Cohen, the under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence to the Treasury, the United States is planning to completely choke off the Islamic State group’s access to the international financial system. Washington asserts that oil produced in territories controlled by the Islamic State group have indirectly supplied the Iraqi Kurds and Turkey.

According to U.S. plans, sanctions against those that buy fossil fuels from the Islamic State group and resell them to third parties should help undermine their financial strength. Because the price of oil sold by the Islamic State group, according to estimates by American experts, is significantly lower than the market price at $30 a barrel, it is extremely attractive to buyers. Washington’s strategy includes revealing all who engage in financial transactions with the Islamic State group.

Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the illegal sale of fossil fuels by Islamic militants. “The terrorists produce oil and they sell it at throw away prices. And whoever buys this oil and resells it is not thinking that they are financing terrorists, that will sooner or later come to their territory bringing death to their nation,” he said speaking at conference of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

However, according to Russian experts, the tactics proposed by the United States to combat this phenomenon are unlikely to be supported by Moscow. This is because the destruction of Syria’s oil infrastructure may deal a serious blow not just to Islamic State militants but also to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, who last summer was reelected president of Syria.

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Luka Fisher is a Los Angeles based artist, creative producer, Russian translator and political analyst. You can reach him at

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