RAQQA, SYRIA — In a war-torn region where fuel is sometimes hard to come by, many have come to rely on diesel and petrol produced in areas controlled by the Islamic State (ISIS) group. This has allowed oil to become the 'black gold' that funds the ISIS jihadi regime.
Within the large swathes of Syria and Iraq under ISIS control, the oil fields and refineries that dot the landscape are what greases the wheels of the ISIS war machine.
Despite no longer controlling the oil fields in Iraq, ISIS produces about 40,000 barrels per day from the oil wells in Syria alone. Tanker-trucks line up in 6-kilometre-long queues for the coveted oil, which is not only used to fund ISIS activities, but is also sold to local communities for $20 - $45 a barrel–adding an average of $1.5 million into ISIS coffers daily.
Running its oil industry like a corporation, ISIS protects oil wells with sand berms and its secret police force ensures that there's no oversight and controls where the oil revenue goes. ISIS also recruits employees from its pool of supporters worldwide as accountants, engineers or managers at the oil fields.
Worldwide low oil revenue and coalition bombs, not to mention Russia's intervention, may put a damper on ISIS' oil business, but what's clear is that oil is high in demand in the region and ISIS is benefiting heavily from it.
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