Islamic State militants have resorted to stealing, spilling and smuggling crude oil from Iraqi oil fields as a means to wreak havoc and fund their spluttering but surviving campaign of terror.
The stealing persists despite the defeat of the group in its major strongholds of Mosul and Tel Afar in Iraq, more than two years after Iraqi forces specifically sought to retake oil-rich areas from the terrorists.
“While ISIS is steadily losing its hold on populated areas, it still controls a not-insignificant portion of territory that contains oil and oil infrastructure,” Justin Dargin, global energy expert at the University of Oxford, told Fox News.
“As a result, ISIS is continuing at a frantic pace to produce and smuggle as much oil as possible in a bid to acquire its ever-declining revenue base.”
According to Iraq’s state-run North Oil Company (NOC), ISIS still controls scores of wellheads in parts of the northern Ajil field which are considered contested land between Iraq and Kurdish governments.
The terror network still controls some 75 percent of the Alas Dome in the nearby and prominent Hamrin field, NOC adds.
ISIS gained control of the two fields in June 2014 after its sudden assault on the country’s second-largest city of Mosul.
While Iraqi forces took back much of the region in early 2015, the militants have retained a foothold in the more remote parts, such as the provinces of Salahuddin and Diyala.
The black-clad jihadist army can access these areas from its last major Iraq stronghold of Hawija near the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
It is in these areas that the terrorists are reported to have orchestrated a massive oil spill spanning thousands of acres southbound from the Hamrin Mountains and into emancipated territory, where it is even flooding into the streets of villages just northeast of Tikrit, according to Iraq Oil Report and satellite imagery of the area.