Islamic State is ‘broke’ and struggling to pay its fighters

Iraq’s former finance minister has told Sky News that Islamic State is nearly bankrupt and is running out of money to pay its fighters. At its peak, IS was the richest terrorist organisation in the world - with a huge network of criminal enterprises to finance its network. The oil fields it captured in northern Iraq, and later set fire to, still belch out thick and acrid smoke. As the group retreated, it destroyed them to form smoke shields and make it more difficult for coalition jets to carry out airstrikes. Oil smuggling was perhaps the group’s biggest source of income. But it also taxed and extorted money out of the local population.

They were taxing every business - they were taxing every shop, every pharmacy, every activity - not to mention the money they stole from the Iraqi banks. They were a very, very rich organisation. Now, I think they are on the retreat and they are broke. Also they are losing ground, so this battle in Mosul is decisive to end their caliphate - to end their so-called Islamic State

Former Iraqi finance minister, Hoshyar Zebari

The damage that IS has wrought to Iraq has carried a massive human and economic cost - but culturally, it has also been disastrous. IS took pride in destroying Iraq’s heritage. It posted propaganda videos of its fighters smashing up antiquities in the Mosul museum. In its warped ideology, such objects were tantamount to idolatry. But the group also knew their worth. Now under the control of the Iraqi army, archaeologists have discovered a network of tunnels excavated by IS under the Tomb of Yunus. IS though, far from digging to destroy the ancient artefacts, made the tunnels so it could steal the ancient objects and sell them on the black market. It is not known how much they stole, but what they have plundered and reduced to rubble is significant.