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ISIS Ramps Up Oil, Gas Sales to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad / AP
• January 19, 2017 3:05 pm

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The Islamic State has shored up its oil and gas sales to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, padding the terrorist group's coffers with much needed funds, according to U.S. and European officials.

The sales represent the militant group's largest source of revenue, overtaking funds made off of tolls and taxes levied on those residing in its claimed territory, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

While Assad says the regime is committed to eradicating ISIS with its Russian and Iranian partners, the government's oil and gas purchases are helping the terrorist group subsist amid a heightened military campaign.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

Islamic State's energy sales to the Syrian regime illustrate the shifting, sometimes confounding, alliances that have marked the country's nearly six-year war.

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Although Islamic State is a regular target of Mr. Assad's pronouncements against terrorism, his government depends on the militant group for oil and natural gas to the extent that the Syrian capital Damascus "relies on gas produced in ISIS territory in the Palmyra area for a large part of its power generation," a European counterterrorism official said.

Amos Hochstein, a State Department official who oversees U.S. efforts to stunt ISIS's energy business, told the Journal that the terrorist group blew up a Syrian government gas plant on Jan. 8 when the Assad regime fell behind on payments.

"It shows not only the degree of trade between the two entities, the regime and Daesh, but also the brutality of these kinds of trades," Hochstein said, referring to the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

During the height of ISIS territorial control in 2014, the terrorist group had captured virtually every oil field controlled by the Assad regime, making up to $1 million a day from sales to Iraqi and Syrian buyers. The amount sharply fell in 2015 amid the escalated U.S.-led bombing campaign in the region, despite the terrorist group capturing the last of the Syrian government's oil fields that year.

Published under: Bashar al-Assad, ISIS, Islamic State, Oil, Syria