The Defense Department on Thursday released video of a U.S. airstrike against a mobile oil refinery in Syria, one of the 12 refineries controlled by the Islamic State that were targeted by U.S. missiles on Wednesday night.
Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby told reporters that the U.S. targeted refineries that are capable of producing 300 to 500 barrels of refined petroleum each day. While small, the refineries are seen as a key source of revenue for the Islamic State, also known as ISIL.
"These small scale refineries provide fuel to run ISIL operations, money to finance their continued attacks throughout Iraq and Syria. And they are an economic asset to support future operations," Kirby said.
The video shows the Jeribe West Modular Refinery, which gets hit by a missile. It then briefly shows the refinery, which appears to be completely destroyed.
But Kirby said the airstrikes were aimed at taking out Islamic State personnel as much as possible, while trying to minimize damage to the facility. He noted at the Gbiebe oil refinery, some of the infrastructure remained intact, and that the U.S. is trying to preserve some of the buildings in case a more stable Syria can eventually run them again.
"It wasn't about obliterating the refineries off the face of the map, it was about degrading their ability to use these refineries," he said.
The Defense Department tweeted out a before and after picture of the Gbiebe facility, in which part of the refinery tower can be seen standing even after the strike: