Cash-Strapped Daesh Targeting North African Oil Fields

© AFP 2022 / Abdullah DomaA Libyan security member walks by an oil drill on March 23, 2013 at the al-Ghani oil field, near the city of Waddan in the central Al-Jufrah province.
A Libyan security member walks by an oil drill on March 23, 2013 at the al-Ghani oil field, near the city of Waddan in the central Al-Jufrah province. - Sputnik International
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Daesh (ISIL/ISIS) has plans to attack oil production facilities in Libya and the Sinai Peninsula, a US official has revealed.

Daesh has plans to attack oil production facilities in Libya and the Sinai Peninsula in order to boost its income because the costs of its oil operations in Syria have increased, a US official told the press in Washington on Tuesday.

"They are looking at the oil assets in Libya and elsewhere. We'll be prepared," the senior official said at a press briefing.

He explained that US intelligence services are looking at oil fields, pipelines and trucking routes which could be targeted by the terrorists, and that the organization's finances have taken a hit due to air strikes on oil transportation facilities that it controls. 

"The costs of the operation have gone up and the ability to move it around has gone down," he said.

Last week US Treasury official Adam Szubin estimated that the militants are making up to $40 million per month selling oil that is stolen from production facilities in Syria, and have made up to $500 million in total so far from the oil trade. 

© AFP 2022 / STR A member of the Syrian government forces walks next to a well at Jazel oil field, near the ancient city of Palmyra in the east of Homs province after they retook the area from Islamic State (IS) group fighters on March 9, 2015.
A member of the Syrian government forces walks next to a well at Jazel oil field, near the ancient city of Palmyra in the east of Homs province after they retook the area from Islamic State (IS) group fighters on March 9, 2015. - Sputnik International
A member of the Syrian government forces walks next to a well at Jazel oil field, near the ancient city of Palmyra in the east of Homs province after they retook the area from Islamic State (IS) group fighters on March 9, 2015.

Meanwhile, French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has revealed that Daesh-held territory has indeed spread through the North African country.

"They are in Sirte, their territory extends 250 km along the coast, but they are starting to penetrate the interior and to be tempted by access to oil wells and reserves," said Jean-Yves Le Drian.

France believes Daesh militants are desperate to find new oil resources after their stronghold in Syria was hit by Russian and western airstrikes.

However, the exploitation of the situation in Libya by Daesh militants is nothing new. 

© SputnikLibya descended into chaos following the fall of Colonel Gaddafi, killed by French and British-led NATO forces.
Libya descended into chaos following the fall of Colonel Gaddafi, killed by French and British-led NATO forces.  - Sputnik International
Libya descended into chaos following the fall of Colonel Gaddafi, killed by French and British-led NATO forces.

A civil war broke out between the official government in the east and its rival group in the west; many of the arms believed to be used by rebel forces to overthrow Gaddafi are now in the hands of Daesh militants.

Libya still doesn't have an internationally recognized unity government, while Daesh continues to explore and exploit more opportunities and oil fields.

In August 2015, the Libyan Government was forced to operate in Tobruk after Daesh captured Tripoli. It asked for Arab states to carry out airstrikes to help combat Daesh advances. At the time, the response from western governments was just an expression of concern.

Libyan protesters shout slogans during a demonstration against a UN-sponsored agreement on forming a national unity government, on December 11, 2015 in the capital Tripoli. - Sputnik International
Deep Divisions Remain Despite Bid for Unity Government in Libya

"We are deeply concerned about reports that these fighters have shelled densely populated parts of the city and committed indiscriminate acts of violence to terrorise the Libyan population," a joint statement from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the US said.

In October 2015, Mattia Toaldo, Libya specialist at the European Council on Foreign Relations told Reuters that "[Daesh] is expanding in central Libya, encountering little resistance."

Daesh have just issued a decree stating that Sirte was governed by "the caliphate." The decree, seen by London newspaper The Times, sets out a 13 point manifesto, warning of strict punishments for anyone who flouted its rules.

It's seems Daesh have had their sights set on Sirte for some time now, and are spreading further into Libya.  

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