U.S. military: Air strikes disrupted ISIS abilities

The U.S. military says around 12,000 to 15,000 Syrian opposition forces would be required to retake areas controlled by ISIS

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The U.S.-led airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have disrupted the group’s infrastructure, its command and control and logistical abilities, said General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Friday.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Dempsey said he expected a “persistent and sustained” campaign against ISIS, which has seized swathes of land in Iraq and Syria.

On Friday, airstrikes targeted the militant group’s oil facilities for a second day, a monitoring group said Friday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported new air strikes in eastern Deir Ezzor province and north-eastern Hasakeh province, both of which were targeted a day earlier by the coalition.

Additional strikes hit an area in Hasakeh, where the target was not immediately clear, the group’s director Rami Abdel Rahman said. There were no immediate details of any casualties from the strikes.

Oil sale has been a major source of funding for ISIS since it captured several oil fields across the country.

The group reportedly stopped oil extraction from fields in Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria after the U.S.-led strikes.

“Oil extraction has been halted because of the security situation,” said Leith al-Deiri, an activist in Deir Ezzor who spoke to AFP via the Internet.

“People... would wait four days to get oil, because there was so much demand. But now there are no customers... There are no traders or clients going to the fields, fearing the strikes,” he said via the Internet.

Deir Ezzor is home to six major oil fields and the Coneco gas field. Experts say the group could be earning between $1 million and $3 million a day from oil sales alone.

All the fields have fallen into the hands of ISIS since the militant group took over the majority of Deir Ezzor province. While speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Friday, Dempsey said a Western-backed opposition force of around 12,000 to 15,000 would be required to retake areas of eastern Syria now controlled by ISIS.

“Five thousand has never been the end state ... Twelve to 15,000 is what we believe they would need to recapture lost territory in eastern Syria,” Dempsey said.

Last week, Congress gave temporary approval to a plan for the United States to train members of Syria's moderate opposition to combat the Islamic State, which is seeking to expand its hardline rule from a base in eastern Syria. The initial number of opposition fighters to be trained by the United States is expected to be around 5,000.

[With AFP]

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