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U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have reportedly destroyed more than $500 million cash reserves and 20 kilograms of gold . But US officials claim the amount is much more

U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have reportedly destroyed more than $500 million cash reserves and 20 kilograms of gold stored by the terror group, a U.S. media outlet reported on Friday.

The estimate comes amid reports that the terror group is facing a cash shortage in its so-called caliphate, slashing the perks and salaries of its fighters across the region.

Recent reports have stated that the extremist group has started accepting only dollars for “tax” payments, water and electric bills.

But the $500m figure is probably a low estimate, a U.S. official was quoted as saying. The official said the figure is in “the high hundreds of millions of dollars.”

An additional 20 kilograms of gold is also believed to have been destroyed by the airstrikes, the report said.

As part of the effort to weaken the Islamic State, the U.S. military has struck at the terror group’s finances, particularly its lucrative oil smuggling enterprise in Syria that provides revenue for its operations.

The U.S. has also been targeting IS’ “cash distribution centres” in Syria where it stored hard cash used for its operations.

Ten strikes have been conducted so far with the most high profile being two airstrikes in Mosul, in northern Iraq, targeting facilities that American officials characterised as IS banks.

As proof of their successful targeting, the US-led coalition released a video of one of the Mosul airstrikes that showed what appeared to be large amounts of bills fluttering in the air after the airstrike.

American officials believe the strikes have had an impact on IS operations often citing anecdotal reports that IS fighters are now being paid half what they had been receiving prior to the airstrikes.

“It’s a significant amount of cash that we believe was in those various collection points before we struck them,” Colonel Steve Warren, the U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, told reporters this week at a Pentagon briefing.

According to Warren, the U.S. now estimates that “hundreds of millions of dollars” in cash has been destroyed by airstrikes targeting IS financial centres.

The official also said five airstrikes near Mosul this weekend targeted two IS financial distribution centres and two IS financial storage centres.

 

The Hindu

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