Islamic State seizes control of Iraq's oil, wheat

Published August 14th, 2014 - 06:04 GMT

ISIS terrorists are currently in control of seven oil fields in Iraq and large amounts of the country’s wheat supplies.

Iraqi officials said on Wednesday that the militants were holding government silos in five of Iraq's most fertile provinces, where the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) says 40 percent of the country’s wheat is grown.

The output capacity of the ISIS-held oil fields amounts to 80,000 barrels a day, said the International Energy Agency (IEA) in a monthly oil market report on Tuesday.

The ISIS, which already held the Najma, Qayara, Himreen, Ajeel and Balad fields, managed to capture the Ain Zalah and Batma fields in Nineveh province earlier this month.

According to the IEA, the militants are currently about 30 kilometers (19 miles) away from Bai Hassan, the country’s fourth-biggest field, situated near Kirkuk.

The potential oil flow from Iraq’s ISIS-held deposits is commensurate to about $8.4 million a day on international markets.

Iraq, which has the world’s fifth-biggest crude reserves, came under a massive blitz by the ISIS militants in June.

Apart from oil, the militants have also grabbed large supplies of grain in government silos and the country’s biggest dam.

"Now is the worst time for food insecurity," said Fadel al-Zubi, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative for Iraq.

According to the Iraqi Trade Ministry, the government bought 1.1 million tons of wheat from Iraqi farmers this harvest season, which yet remain in silos in the provinces where they are operating. The amount equals nearly 20 percent of the annual consumption in Iraq.

Hassan Ibrahim, the director general of the Grain Board of Iraq, said the militants had embarked on selling the stolen wheat back to the government in an attempt to make money for their ongoing assaults.

More than a million people have been displaced by the ISIS-led violence in Iraq so far this year, according to the UN.

Soldiers of the Iraqi army have been engaged in heavy fighting with the militants on different fronts and have so far been able to push them back in several areas.


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