A U.S. airstrike obliterated an Islamic State bank in Mosul, Iraq, destroying millions of dollars of much-needed cash.
The airstrike consisted of two 2,000-pound bombs and was somewhat unusual because of the facility’s proximity to civilian areas. Mosul is full of normal residents. The U.S has exhibited extreme reticence when it comes to airstrike civilian casualties, even going so far as to drop warning leaflets in advance of targeting oil trucks. In this case, to avoid hitting any civilians, drones gathered intelligence for days to determine the optimal strike time. Thestrike occurred at dawn Sunday, so as to avoid civilians during daylight hours, CNN reports.
An estimated five to seven civilians were killed. The military was willing to bear up to 50 civilian casualties because of the importance of the target, signaling a shift from previous strategy.
A defense official who spoke to Fox News estimated ISIS was storing millions in the facility from tax revenue and oil sales, which it depends on to run its day-to-day operations. This isn’t the first time the U.S. has hit a cash warehouse.
ISIS has desperately been trying to diversify its revenue-raising activities, so that the group is not dependent on oil. That source of revenue is quickly drying up as unending airstrikes combined with a drop in the global price of oil have devastated production capabilities.
As a result, ISIS has leaned more on taxes, specifically the zakat, which mandates contributions of 2.5 percent from high-income brackets and businesses. In total, this brings in hundreds of millions in a year. ISIS also enforces customs duties. The Financial Times reported that customs duties brought in $140 million for the group.
But now the warehouse storing the cash no longer exists, according to video footage purporting to show the aftermath of the destruction, complete with charred furniture and rubble. ISIS may have a more difficult time paying its troops and sustaining operations.
Here’s what the aftermath of the airstrike reportedly looks like.
Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.