Assessing the Battle Damage in Syria

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Wednesday’s air strikes in Syria did not completely destroy the oil refineries controlled by ISIS, but they did degrade the organization’s ability to use them to support their forces and to fund their black market activities by producing oil. Fighters from the United Arab Emirates Air Force and the Royal Saudi Air Force composed the majority of the Wednesday strike package, said Kirby on Thursday. Of the 16 fighter aircraft participating in Wednesday’s sorties, 10 were jets from the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The remaining six were US aircraft, although no F-22s participated, Kirby added. The strike wave hit 12 refineries and one vehicle with 41 precision munitions, ranging from 250 to 1,000 pound bombs, said Kirby, who also noted that 23 of the 41 bombs were dropped by UAE or RSAF aircraft. He described the refineries as “strategic targets” that will impact the group’s operations and ability to support its fighters. There has not been any major movement of Syrian government forces in areas where air strikes have occurred, but Kirby said there also has been little “muscle movement” or reaction from ISIS elements in strike areas. (US Central Command video of F-15 strike on one of the ISIS refineries.)