Coalition warned ISIS before bombing its trucks

US-led coalition planes warned drivers of fuel trucks used by ISIS in Syria, prompting several vehicles to flee

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US-led coalition planes warned drivers of fuel trucks used by the ISIS group in Syria they were about to be bombed, prompting several vehicles to flee, officials told AFP Wednesday.

Multiple warplanes destroyed 83 oil tankers Sunday near Albu Kamal, along Syria’s border with Iraq, as part of an ongoing mission to wipe out the oil-smuggling infrastructure that helps fund ISIS.

At the start of the attack, pilots “fired multiple warning shots to encourage truck drivers to leave the area,” the US military’s anti-ISIS mission, Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a statement.

“Multiple oil tanker trucks departed the area after the warning shots, and we did not pursue them,” officials added.

Remaining oil trucks were “stationary at the time of the strike. Based on our assessment, there were no drivers remaining with the vehicles at the time of the strike.”

The Obama administration came under criticism from some Republican lawmakers last year after the Pentagon said it had dropped leaflets warning truck drivers of impending strikes.

The rationale is that ISIS presses drivers into service and they are not necessarily ISIS supporters.

Pilots did not drop warning leaflets in Sunday’s attack, which was conducted under Operation Tidal Wave II, named after a World War II mission to bomb oil refineries used by the Nazis.

The case highlights the delicate balancing act surrounding strikes against IS targets.

Civilian casualties fuel outrage and are used as a rallying cry by jihadists, and the military will often call off a strike if the risk of civilian deaths is deemed too high.

But critics have accused the Obama administration of making rules of engagement too restrictive and shackling the military.

In just two strikes last year, coalition planes destroyed about 400 tankers that were lined up in the desert waiting to take on illicit oil.

In those cases, pilots dropped leaflets warning drivers.

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