Russia steps up offensive, claims to have destroyed 500 ISIS oil tankers

AFP
Published Nov 19, 2015, 10:51 pm IST
Updated Mar 27, 2019, 1:30 am IST
Revenues from oil smuggling are a key part of IS financing
This file photo taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web siteshows a target hit during a Russian air raid in Syria against ISIS (Photo: AP)
 This file photo taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web siteshows a target hit during a Russian air raid in Syria against ISIS (Photo: AP)

Moscow: Russia on Wednesday said its planes will attack any tanker trucks travelling through territory belonging to the Islamic State group in Syria, as Moscow looks to ratchet up pressure on the jihadists.

The extremist group gets most of its funding by the revenues it makes by selling smuggled fuel through its oil tankers and Russia’s move could cripple the ISIS’ financing.

 

"Today a decision was taken according to which Russian warplanes are now flying on a so-called 'free hunt' against tanker trucks carrying oil products belonging to terrorists in areas controlled by IS," senior Russian military official Andrei Kartapolov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

Kartapolov said that Russian aviation had already destroyed some 500 fuel trucks over the past "few days" transporting oil from Syria to refineries in Iraq.

"This has considerably lowered the ability of the fighters to illegally export energy products and their income from contraband oil," he said.

Russia for a second day running sent long-distance bombers to attack targets in the IS-held Raqa and Deir Ezzor provinces.

Other strategic bombers flying over Russian territory fired cruise missiles at the Idlib and Aleppo provinces.

Planes from the Russian base in Syria have bombed some 150 targets across the war-torn country.

Moscow pledged to ratchet up its strikes in Syria on Tuesday after confirming for the first time that a bomb brought down its passenger jet over Egypt last month.

Russia has been flying a bombing campaign in Syria since late September in support of forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad.

The US -- which is heading a rival coalition targeting IS -- on Monday bombed hundreds of tanker trucks belonging to the jihadist group for the first time.

Russia submitted a revised draft UN resolution Wednesday on fighting the Islamic State group that France said could be partially included in its own Security Council measure following the Paris attacks.

Agreement from the 15-member council on a single draft resolution that lays out the international approach to defeating IS extremists would mark a significant step after months of disagreements between the West and Russia

The Russian draft text was first presented to the Security Council in late September but was rejected by the United States, Britain and France over a provision that calls for battling the IS extremists with the consent of the Syrian regime -- a Moscow ally.

The new draft resolution still contains that provision, said Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, but he downplayed disagreements.

"We are calling for closer cooperation than we currently have now among all those fighting in Syria and Iraq," Churkin told reporters following a closed-door meeting of the council.

"One thing which was heard loud and clear in our discussions in the council is that there should be unity of the council. I don't see it as a huge gap."

French President Francois Hollande has called on the Security Council to quickly adopt a resolution to strengthen the fight against IS jihadists in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Hollande is due to meet President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on November 26, two days after talks in Washington with President Barack Obama aimed at stepping up the campaign against the extremists.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre said he was working "to prepare a text that will be short, strong and focused on the fight against our common enemy, Daesh (IS)."

That measure is expected to be presented to the council soon and Delattre said he would "carefully study" the Russian draft text to see how parts of it could be added to the French draft resolution.

Churkin insisted that Syria must have a role in confronting the IS group, saying that "to ignore the Syrian government... is something that is definitely weakening the possibility of our joint fight."

Following a phone call between Hollande and Putin this week, the Kremlin said Russia and French military and security services would work together to confront "terrorist groups" in Syria.

The Paris attacks that left at least 129 dead and the bombing of a Russian airliner, both claimed by IS, have brought France and Russia closer together in their shared goal of defeating the jihadist group.

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