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A car blast killed at least 10 oil workers and fighters from a U.S.-backed Kurdish force battling Islamic State in eastern Syrian on Thursday, Reuters reported, citing residents and witnesses in the area.
The bomb attack on a minibus carrying workers employed in one of Syria’s largest oil fields, al-Omar, took place near the town of al-Shuhayl in Syria’s oil-rich eastern province of Deir Ezzor.
The area is under the control of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), supported by Washington.
According to AFP, the death toll is at 20 people.
Adnan Afrin, a spokesman for the SDF, told AFP that the attack killed mostly oil workers, as well as fighters from the U.S.-backed force battling ISIS in eastern Syria.
Jihadist “cells are trying to stop our progress,” Afrin told AFP.
The bomb attack came as the SDF are fighting to expel the ISIS militants from the last territory of their ‘caliphate’ in the village of Baghouz, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) south along the Euphrates River.
According to UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a booby-trapped car parked in al-Shuhayl area in the eastern sector of Deir Ezzor province “was remotely detonated when a column of oil workers, technicians, and members of the self-defense Forces passed near it, killing at least 20 people including at least 6 members of the self-defense, and the death toll is expected to rise because there are some people in critical situation.”
Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the U.S. plan to withdraw its troops from Syria would not give Islamic State an opportunity to try to retake some oil fields in the war-torn country.
The U.S. Administration is determined to quash the Islamic State caliphate and not to allow it to retake oil fields, whose oil it could sell to fund its operations, Secretary Pompeo told FOX Business in early February.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.