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A large group of Syrian civilians took control over several oil wells in eastern Syria after clashes with rebel group Syrian Democratic Forces, Iranian Fars News reported today, citing information from the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
According to the report, the rebel group, which comprises Kurdish and Arab fighters supported by the United States, had been hoarding fuel, refusing to supply it to communities in the eastern Syrian province of Deir ez Zor, and as a result caused a spike in prices.
Deir ez Zor is home to one of Syria’s biggest oil fields, Al Omar, which prior to the civil war in Syria pumped 30,000 bpd of crude. Islamic State, which featured prominently in the Syrian civil war, controlled the field in 2015, when the U.S.-led coalition against the terrorist group destroyed it, cutting off a revenue stream that generated an estimated US$5.1 million from oil sales per month.
Clashes between the SDF and local communities have been going on for a while in Deir ez Zor, but now Islamic State is reportedly re-establishing itself in both Syria and Iraq, and the situation in eastern Syria, already difficult, may become even more difficult as the terrorist group would certainly seek to eventually regain control over oil fields.
According to a report in the Financial Times from last week, Islamic State militants have been kidnapping and killing people, and setting bombs in the territories it used to control between 2014 and 2017 when it was driven out from most of what it had called a caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
In fact, the Financial Times quoted a SDF spokesperson, Kino Gabriel, as saying “Our estimation of Isis’s power was wrong. We realised that there are more Isis fighters than we thought,” echoing earlier warnings from geopolitical analysts that defeating the Islamic State would be an ongoing challenge, despite the liberation of former strongholds such as Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.