The Pentagon is casting a skeptical eye toward Russian government claims that its airstrikes made more than 1,000 Islamic State oil tankers in just a few days.
One U.S. defense official told Fox News it would be nearly impossible to destroy that many tankers with the kind of unguided bombs used by the Russians.
The claims were first induced Monday morning. Russian news outlet RT reported online that Russian strikes torched more than 1,000 tankers delivering crude oil to ISIS over a five-day period, citing a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry. The Russian Air Force, according to the report, also reached 472 targets in two days in Syria.
The claims come as the U.S. also says its coalition is hitting a large number of tanker trucks albeit nowhere near as many ten-strikes as Moscow says it conducted.
The U.S.-led coalition reported making 283 vehicles in eastern Syria on Nov. 21. Fox News has confirmed the vehicles were in fact oil tanker trucks.
Another defense official who spoke with Fox News said that the U.S. and Russia are not bombing the same targets.
Its hard to verify the effectiveness of Russia strikes without diverting assets, the official added.
But asked if the U.S. took the Russian claims at face value, the official said: Its Russia. They have proven to manipulate information in the past.
As for the U.S.-backed coalition ten-strikes, the attack by four -A1 0 attack airplanes and two AC-1 30 gunships was carried out Saturday at a site near Deir el-Zour and al-Hasakah but not reported until Monday. It followed a similar assault on Nov. 15 that destroyed 116 tanker trucks and is part of a broader air campaign, dubbed Operation Tidal Wave II, designed to cripple the militants' petroleum making, refining and distribution system. The U.S. has said petroleum provides about half the group's total income.
Until the Nov. 15 strike, the U.S. had refrained from attacking oil trucks, fearing it could cause unintended civilian deaths.
The U.S. still is trying to avoid civilian deaths.
This time, U.S. aircraft dropped cautioning leaflets and constructed strafing runnings in the field to persuade the civilian drivers of oil tankers trucks to abandon their vehicles before the bombing began, military spokesman Col. Steve Warren said, adding that the U.S. believes no civilians were injured or killed.
ISIS controls nearly all of Syria's oil fields, concentrated in the east of the country, producing some 30,000 barrels per day, along with one field in Iraq. It smuggles the oil mainly to Turkey, selling at cut-rate costs and generating virtually $50 million a month.
Warren last week described Russias past airstrikes as reckless and not the kind of accuracy strikes used by the coalition. He said Russia was use dumb bombs to carry out the majority of its strikes against ISIS.
Fox News Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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