first published on November 19, 2015 by Will
In a single sortie of airstrikes, U.S. warplanes destroyed 116 ISIS-controlled fuel trucks near Abu Kamal, Syria, on Nov. 15, 2015 as part of the coalition’s Operation Tidal Wave II, which is an effort to slow the Islamic State’s generation of revenue.
The strikes were carried about by two AC-130 gunships and four A-10 “Warthogs.” The Warthogs expended at least twenty-four 500-pound bombs, and gnarly strafing runs with the 30mm gatling guns can be seen in the video as well.
Hours before the devastating strikes, fighter jets dropped leaflets onto the cluster of tanker trucks, warning the drivers to abandon their vehicles or be destroyed. Many of the truck drivers are civilians rather than hardline jihadists, but working for the world’s number one bad guy comes with its drawbacks.
Even after dealing this blow to the ISIS bank roll, the U.S. is drawing criticism for not targeting the Islamic State oil trade sooner. The U.S. responded by saying that they refrained from hitting the tankers earlier because of the heightened risk of civilian casualties.
The strikes are said to have been planned for some time, and are not a response to the deadly Paris terror attacks. However, a recent press release by Russian President Putin, in which he insinuated that several nations, including G20 members, were complicit in the illegal oil trade, may have been the catalyst to finally get the West to target the tankers.
“I’ve shown our colleagues photos taken from space and from aircraft which clearly demonstrate the scale of the illegal trade in oil and petroleum products,” Putin said.
“The motorcade of refueling vehicles stretched for dozens of kilometers, so that from a height of 4,000 to 5,000 meters they stretch beyond the horizon,” Putin said.
The name “Operation Tidal Wave II” is a throwback to a WWII bombing operation in which the U.S. bombed an Axis oil refinery in Romania for similar reasons. Besides targeting tanker trucks, Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve has also recently targeted other ISIS-controlled oil facilities in Syria.