clear
Friday November 24th, 2017 8:43PM

US-backed forces take Syria's largest oil field from IS

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BEIRUT (AP) — U.S.-backed fighters captured Syria's largest oil field from the Islamic State group Sunday, marking a major advance against the extremists in an area coveted by pro-government forces.

With IS in retreat, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian government have been in a race to secure parts of the oil-rich Deir el-Zour province along the border with Iraq.

The Al-Omar oil field was a major source of income for the militant group and is considered one Syria's most productive. The condition of the field, which has been controlled by IS for three years, was not clear following intense coalition and Russian airstrikes.

The SDF, with air support from the U.S.-led coalition, said it captured the field in a "swift and wide military operation." It said some militants have taken cover in oil company houses nearby, where clashes are underway. The U.S.-led coalition confirmed the SDF had retaken the oil field.

After coming under heavy fire from IS, pro-government forces retreated from the area around Al-Omar field, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The SDF said government forces were 3 kilometers (2 miles) away from the fields.

Syrian troops, backed by Russian warplanes and Iranian-sponsored militias, have retaken nearly all of the provincial capital of Deir el-Zour, as well as the town of Mayadeen, another IS stronghold, which is across the Euphrates River from the Al-Omar field.

The SDF focused their operations in rural Deir el-Zour on the eastern side of the river, and have already seized a major natural gas field and other smaller oil fields.

IS captured Al-Omar in 2014, when the group swept across large areas in Syria and neighboring Iraq. At the time, the field was estimated to produce around 9,000 barrels a day. Its current potential is unknown.

Syria had proven oil reserves of 2.5 billion barrels as of 2015, giving it the largest supply among its neighbors after Iraq. The oil industry was a pillar of the Syrian economy before the conflict in 2011.

As IS advanced in Syria, it seized control of most of Syria's oil fields and made petroleum a major earner for the militant group, which sold it on the black market to other insurgents and the Syrian government.

Since the coalition began operations against IS in 2014, the militants' oil production has been reduced from a peak of approximately $50 million per month to currently less than $4 million, the coalition said in a statement to The Associated Press.

The government lost the al-Omar field to other insurgents in 2013.

Al-Manar TV, operated by Lebanon's Hezbollah, said the fight for Al-Omar was still underway and denied the SDF's claim to have captured it. The militant group fights alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces.

The official Syrian news agency said troops regained full control of Khosham, a town on the eastern side of the Euphrates River that they lost a day earlier to IS. The Observatory for Human Rights said parts of the town remain contested.

It's not clear how Syrian troops will respond to the SDF's seizure of Al-Omar. Assad has vowed to eventually bring all of Syria back under government control.

The two sides have accused each other of firing on their forces in Deir el-Zour province, but a rare face-to-face meeting of senior U.S. and Russian military officers last month appeared to have calmed tensions.

Syria observers have said the race between the US-backed fighters and the Russian- and Iranian-backed Syrian government forces is likely to be a source of direct confrontation in the absence of a political agreement.

IS has suffered a series of major setbacks in recent months, including the loss of the Syrian city of Raqqa, once the extremists' self-styled capital, and the Iraqi city of Mosul. Most of the territory the group once held has been seized by an array of Syrian and Iraqi forces.

An estimated 6,500 IS fighters remain in eastern Syria and western Iraq, many concentrated along the Euphrates River valley straddling the border, the U.S. military said last week.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News, AP Business, AP World News - International incidents, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
US-backed forces take Syria's largest oil field from IS
US-backed forces seize Syria's largest oil field from retreating Islamic State
12:21PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Vegas rebranding shows difficulty of messaging after tragedy
As volunteers streamed in to donate blood, doctors tended to the wounded and investigators scoured the scene of the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history, Las Vegas officials moved to protect their valuable franchise
12:04PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Kenya's leader urges peace ahead of vote as tensions rise
Kenya's leader urges peace ahead of vote as ethnic tensions rise in capital
11:55AM ( 34 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Slovenia's president looks to be first re-elected in decades
Slovenians vote in presidential election that polls predict should yield easy win for incumbent known for prodigious use of social media
10:42AM ( 1 hour ago )
Egypt's el-Sissi vows to quash terrorism after police ambush
Egypt's president has vowed to press ahead with the country's war against terrorism, secure its borders and hunt down militants, in his first remarks after a deadly assault on the country's police force
10:37AM ( 1 hour ago )
Japanese Prime Minister Abe heads to impressive election win
Japan's ruling coalition appears headed to an impressive win in national elections, in what would represent at least a partial comeback for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
10:29AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP World News
McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if the president makes clear he supports it
11:24AM ( 1 hour ago )
US-allied force takes Syria's largest oil field from IS
The U.S.-led coalition says allied fighters captured Syria's largest oil field from the Islamic State group, marking a major advance against the extremists in an area coveted by pro-government forces
8:20AM ( 4 hours ago )
Trump plans to help with Russia legal bills
President Donald Trump intends to spend at least $430,000 of his own money to help pay the legal bills of White House staff and campaign aides related to the investigations into Russian election meddling in the 2016 election
6:59PM ( 17 hours ago )
AP Business
US tourist fears he was hit in Cuba, years before diplomats
A South Carolina man who visited Havana in 2014 fears he may have suffered from the same unexplained, invisible attacks in Cuba that have harmed American government workers
4:48PM ( 2 days ago )
The Latest: EU chief: No role for EU in Catalonia dispute
European Council President Donald Tusk is ruling out any European Union role in the dispute between Spain and Catalonia as Madrid weighs whether to reclaim some powers from the regional government amid an independence dispute
2:40PM ( 2 days ago )
As US warns of Cuba attacks, tourists ask: Were we hit, too?
Chris Allen's mysterious illness on a private 2014 visit to Havana illustrates how profoundly damaging the Cuba mystery has been for two long-estranged neighbors that only recently sought to patch up their relationship
9:09AM ( 3 days ago )
AP World News - International incidents
End of an era as Hong Kong stock trading floor set to close
End of an era for Hong Kong's last remaining stock market floor traders as exchange prepares to shut its trading hall, joining other world exchanges in going fully automated
1:12AM ( 1 day ago )
No distress call after fishing boat with foreign crew wrecks
A boat transporting foreign fishermen to work in Hawaii's commercial fishing industry didn't call for help after it crashed into a reef off Waikiki
7:41PM ( 1 day ago )
Senators press Pruitt for concessions on biofuels mandate
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency is looking to make peace on biofuels standards with a group of senators from corn-growing states who could upend President Donald Trump's nominees for key regulatory posts
6:10PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Industries
Arctic refuge drilling closer as Senate moves to open site
Congress is a step closer to opening Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling
3:42PM ( 1 day ago )
South Koreans recommend gov't complete 2 nuclear reactors
South Koreans are recommending the government continue building two nuclear reactors the new president had wanted to shutter
10:42PM ( 2 days ago )
The Latest: Senate passes $4 trillion budget blueprint
The Senate has passed a $4 trillion budget blueprint that is a major step forward for President Donald Trump's ambitious promises for "massive tax cuts and reform."
9:33PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Business - Utilities
Vegas rebranding shows difficulty of messaging after tragedy
As volunteers streamed in to donate blood, doctors tended to the wounded and investigators scoured the scene of the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history, Las Vegas officials moved to protect their valuable franchise
12:04PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Kenya's leader urges peace ahead of vote as tensions rise
Kenya's leader urges peace ahead of vote as ethnic tensions rise in capital
11:55AM ( 34 minutes ago )
US pushes Saudi Arabia, Iraq on united front to counter Iran
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is pressing Saudi Arabia and Iraq to form a united front to counter Iran's growing assertiveness in the Middle East
11:55AM ( 35 minutes ago )
'Madea Halloween' sequel takes No. 1, 'Geostorm' flops
Tyler Perry's "Boo 2! A Madea Halloween' has scared up a healthy audience in its first weekend in theaters to easily take first place
11:54AM ( 35 minutes ago )
The Latest: Russia accuses US of 'barbaric' bombing of Raqqa
Russia's Defense Ministry says the Syrian city of Raqqa, formerly the self-declared capital of the Islamic State group, has been devastated, and accuses the United States and its coalition partners of "barbaric" bombardment
11:53AM ( 37 minutes ago )