From the Field

Amid Mosul battle, Iraqi oil wells burn

MOSUL, October 20, 2016 – ISIS reportedly set more oil wells near Mosul on fire on Thursday as Iraqi special forces and Kurdish peshmerga backed by US-led coalition airstrikes closed in on the key Iraqi city.

Footage from the front lines shows thick plumes of black smoke covering the entire city, with explosions and gunfire raging in the background.


The burning of wells is a tactic to obscure the view of bomber jets providing air support to the advancing forces. ISIS borrowed it from former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who used it unsuccessfully to stave of US air strikes during the First Gulf War, and has used it on several occasions in the past, especially near Mosul which is considered the crown jewel of its self-proclaimed caliphate.

In the process, it has destroyed billions of US dollars worth of resources and endangered both the environment and the health of people nearby.

“It took 30 days to put out one fire,” Hussein Salem, an engineer at a village south of Mosul, told CNN.

The smoke from the burning wells is believed to be highly toxic.

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