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Western coalition to ramp up attack on ISIL’s key oil revenues: ‘The gloves are off’

Kurdish forces overlook a burning oil well on November 10, 2015 near the ISIL-held town of Hole, Rojava, Syria.

Weeks before ISIS unleashed its fury on Paris, the Western coalition’s Operation Tidal Wave II had already ramped up its attack on oilfields controlled by the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.

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“We’ve stepped up our attack [and], focused our targeting on other oil facilities…” U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren told Pentagon reporters in a Nov. 13 briefing. The U.S. coalition reportedly destroyed 116 oil-laden ISIL trucks in Syria in recent weeks.

The coalition led by the United States and comprising 30 other nations including Canada, will likely intensify these efforts, as they look to cut off one of ISIL’s key revenue streams and restrict its ability to sponsor global terrorist activities, in response to the group’s attack in Paris last Friday.

“Paris will forever be seen as the touchstone that led to a ramped-up effort against ISIS,” says Richard Nephew, a former U.S. State Department official who worked on the Iran sanctions file. “Its impact was devastating and the response has been aggressive and, personally, I would like to see it even more aggressive.”

Precise figures on ISIL’s oil revenue are hard to come by. Recent media reports suggest it could be as high as US$50 million per month from its production of 40,000-50,000 barrels per day. In a February presentation, the U.S. State Department pegged the group’s monthly revenues from oil at $25 million.

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