BEIRUT

Middle East

Rebels take another oil field: Syria activist

Syrian rebels and civilians walk on the remains of a Syrian government fighter jet which was shot down at Daret Ezza, on the border between the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo, on November 28, 2012. AFP PHOTO / FRANCISCO LEONG

BEIRUT: Syrian troops withdrew from Omar oil field, one of the last regime positions east of Deir Ezzor city near the Iraqi border, a watchdog said Friday, adding that rebels now control the country's major fields.

"Government troops pulled back on Thursday from the Omar oil field north of the town of Mayadeen after having lost the Conoco gas reserve on November 27," the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

Rebels last week seized the strategic town of Mayadeen, taking control of a huge stretch of territory east of Deir Ezzor city along the Iraqi border. This area is now the largest outside regime control.

The insurgents took control of an oil field for the first time on November 4 when they overran Al-Ward, the most important in the province, the Observatory said.

After also losing control of Al-Jofra field also in November, the army now controls not more than five fields, all located to the west of Deir Ezzor city, the watchdog said.

Deir Ezzor province contains the largest energy reserves in the country.

Syria produced some 420,000 of barrels of oil a day before the United States and the European Union in August and September 2011 banned the import of Syrian petroleum and petroleum products to put pressure on the Damascus regime.

Oil exports plunged from 13,500 tonnes in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 7,500 tonnes in the first quarter of 2012. Europe had previously bought 95 percent of Syrian oil, generating a third of the country's revenue.

sbh/am/hc

 

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