BEIRUT

Middle East

Jihadists sell Syrian oil to Iraqi businessmen

A general view shows damaged buildings and debris in Deir al-Zor, June 13, 2013. (REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi)

BEIRUT: The jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is selling oil and liquid gas products extracted from fields under its control in Syria to Iraqi businessmen across the border, an activist group said Monday.

ISIS has captured large swath of territory in Syria and Iraq, including all of oil-rich Deir al-Zor province's oil fields in eastern Syria.

"Trucks with Iraqi number plates have in the past few days traveled to Deir al-Zor's oil fields from Iraq, to fill up and transport oil toward western Iraq," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Britain-based monitoring group added: "These trucks belong to Iraqi businessmen who came (to Syria) to buy oil from fields under ISIS control."

Observatory director Rami Abdel-Rahman said "a considerable number of trucks" had been sighted, traveling from Syria into Iraq each day.

"Each barrel of oil is sold to Iraqi businessmen for $20 to $40," Abdel-Rahman told AFP.

Much of Syria's border with Iraq is under ISIS control.

The Observatory said the ISIS was also selling oil to Syrians living in areas under their control for $12 to $18, "to draw the support of the local population."

Oil is sold at more than $100 per barrel on global markets.

Syria's official oil production has dropped by 96 percent since the March 2011 outbreak of its civil war.

The revolt, demanding President Bashar Assad's ouster, morphed into a war after the regime unleashed a brutal crackdown on dissent.

Months into the conflict, jihadists started pouring into Syria. They have been accused of committing some of the war's worst atrocities.

 

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