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Islamic State Loses Grasp on Last Oil Wells in Iraq

  • Reuters

FILE - A youth works at a makeshift oil refinery in Syria that, according to its owner, gets the crude oil from Islamic State-controlled areas.

FILE - A youth works at a makeshift oil refinery in Syria that, according to its owner, gets the crude oil from Islamic State-controlled areas.

Islamic State militants no longer control any oil wells in Iraq after being ousted by government forces last week from an area near Kirkuk, the oil ministry said Wednesday.

IS was driven out of Shirqat last Thursday by U.S-backed Iraqi forces. Last month, it lost the Qayyara oil field, south of Mosul, to government forces thrusting northward in an offensive to retake the largest city under IS control.

Deprived of oil income, IS will have to find other financing means such as increasing taxation and fines in areas still under its control, said Muthana Jbara, a provincial security official.

Iraqi forces have yet to recapture the Najma oil field, near Qayyara, but its producing wells are no longer accessible to IS because of the ongoing government offensive and airstrikes, according to oil and security officials.

"Najma has yet to be liberated because some sites are in the conflict zone. The reality is that it is extremely difficult to extract and smuggle oil while our forces are advancing toward Mosul," oil ministry spokesman Asim Jihad said.

Islamic State proclaimed a caliphate over parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014 but has lost a significant amount of territory since then to U.S.-backed offensives, though it still controls oil wells on Syrian land.

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