A picture taken on November 9, 2017 in the town of Maaret al-Naasan in the Idlib province countryside, shows a Syrian man filling a tank at a makeshift refinery. AFP / OMAR HAJ KADOUR
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In a rebel-held town in Syria's northwest, streams of crude oil are piped into a cylindrical tank to be primitively refined, capping a weekslong odyssey from fields further east. Over the past two years, nearly 100 makeshift refineries have cropped up around olive groves in Maaret al-Naasan, now a hub for processing precious "black gold" in Idlib province.Bringing consumer products into the Islamist-controlled province is notoriously difficult, as it has been almost entirely cut off from government areas since Syria's war erupted six years ago.Barrels of crude are purchased from the Hassakeh fields for $47 each and an army of truck drivers then begins the weekslong trip back west.Abu al-Omarein said he and fellow truck drivers used to bring crude from fields controlled by Daesh (ISIS) in the oil-rich eastern Deir al-Zor province, but not anymore.The medical center says the "gases and unclean air" emanating from the refineries are to blame for Abdel-Nasser's condition.
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