x

Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

US-backed forces seize major Syria oilfield

The Al Omar oilfield in the province of Deir Ezzor produced 30,000 barrels per day before the start of Syria's conflict in 2011

Fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces in the eastern Deir Ezzor. Rodi Said / Reuters
Fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces in the eastern Deir Ezzor. Rodi Said / Reuters

A US-backed Arab-Kurd alliance announced on Sunday it had retaken one of Syria's largest oilfields from ISIL in the east of the country.

The Al Omar oilfield in the province of Deir Ezzor produced 30,000 barrels per day before the start of Syria's conflict in 2011 and became a key source of income for the jihadists after they seized it in 2014.

US-led coalition air strikes destroyed the field in 2015, after the jihadists had reaped estimated oil sale revenues from it of between $1.7 million (Dh6.2m) and $5.1 million a month, according to the coalition.

"The Syrian Democratic Forces seized the whole of the Al Omar oilfield, the biggest field in Syria," the alliance said in a short statement.

It said regime forces stood three kilometres from the field.

The SDF and Russia-backed government forces are waging separate offensives against ISIL in the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor on Syria's eastern border with Iraq.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor relying of a network of sources inside Syria, said SDF fighters took control of Al Omar three days after ISIL members retreated.

Its capture came after the jihadists led "a counterattack on regime positions near the field late Saturday, pushing them away from it," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

Al Omar lies on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, around 10 kilometres east of the town of Mayadeen.

Government forces and their allies seized Mayadeen from ISIL last week in an advance whose target the Observatory said was to recapture Al Omar.

_______________

Read more:

ISIL Caliphate's end 'in sight' after Raqqa fall, Trump says

_______________

On Sunday, the monitor said the SDF had also seized the Sayjan oilfield to the north of Al Omar overnight.

Deir Ezzor province is rich with oil and gas fields that served as a key revenue stream for ISIL at the height of its power.

The SDF, which earlier this week forced ISIL from its former stronghold Raqqa, has been fighting the jihadists on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.

Syria's army is carrying out a separate operation mostly on the western bank of the river, including in the provincial capital Deir Ezzor city.