On Jan. 10, the U.S. conducted airstrikes on buildings reportedly containing cash reserves held by the Islamic State group (ISIS).
The early morning airstrikes occurred in the Iraqi city of Mosul, CNBC reports. Tens of millions of dollars were destroyed.
U.S. officials told CNN that bombs were dropped to target cash used by the terrorist organization to finance its troops and operations. The airstrikes were part of a strategy to target ISIS’s valuable assets and cripple its access to cash.
The U.S. previously targeted ISIS’s oil reserves, which have been a key source of funding for the terrorist group. ISIS earns roughly $8 million to $10 million per month from oil smuggling, according to CNBC.
The U.S. gained intelligence about the large cash reserve after American forces killed ISIS “money man” Abu Sayyaf in May 2015.
“The bulk cash distribution site was used by [ISIS] to distribute money to fund terrorist activities,” Lt. Commander Ben Tisdale said in a statement, according to The Guardian.
ISIS relies on cash to finance its array of state-like operations and to retain control of its territory, CNBC reports. The group funds an education system and pays salaries to its subjects to maintain their loyalty.
An estimated five to seven civilians were killed as a result of the Jan. 10 airstrikes, according to CNN.
The U.S. military regards Mosul as a sensitive region with a high risk of civilian casualties. U.S. air surveillance reportedly monitored the area where the cash was stored to determine the times of day with the lowest potential for civilian casualties.
The U.S. opted to conduct the airstrikes at dawn, as civilians were normally located around the site during the day while ISIS members worked there at night.
U.S. military officials were reportedly willing to risk up to 50 civilian casualties as a result of the airstrike due to the importance of the target.