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Syrian Forces Close in on ISIS-Surrounded Oilfield

Syria Tanks

Syrian regime forces have pushed Islamic State (ISIS) militants from a strategic hilltop overlooking the al-Shaer oilfield, recapturing the hilltop and forcing ISIS to pull back, according to Iranian news reports.

The oil and gas field is in Homs province, the scene of a significant uptick in fighting as the Syrian civil war enters one of its most intense phases. The al-Shaer field has been the site of major battles for control for years.

Al-Shaer is one of the largest fields in Syria in terms of gas, and control over it has changed hands multiple times in recent weeks and months. Earlier this month, ISIS was pursuing a scorched-earth policy in this field, targeting pumping stations.

Related: OPEC Head Calls for $65 Oil

On Wednesday, Russia said it would suspend airstrikes against radical group Jabhat al-Nusra in what Moscow said was meant to give other rebel groups time to distance themselves from al-Nusra.

The week before, Russia proposed joint airstrikes with the U.S. to crush rebel groups violating the ceasefire agreement. The U.S. rejected the proposal.

Also last week, Russia’s Energy Ministry said the Syrian regime had requested help to rebuild the country’s oil and gas industry.

Related: Would Regulated Oil Prices, Argentine-Style, Help U.S. Shale?

"Syria has asked our companies to participate in rebuilding oil and gas projects, infrastructure development, and pipeline construction…the companies are currently studying the proposals,” Novak said.

Syria has already asked Russia to participate in exploring and developing oil and gas on land and offshore. Syrian authorities indicated that Russian companies will be given a priority in the restoration of the country following the civil war.

In April, Russia and Syria signed nearly a billion dollars’ worth of agreements to rebuild energy, trade, finance and other sectors of the Syrian economy.

By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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