IS now controls all of Syria’s main oil fields
BEIRUT: Militants seized an eastern Syrian oil field early Friday as they try to consolidate their control of an area along the length of the Euphrates river stretching through Syria and Iraq.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that fighters from the Islamic State (IS) group seized the Al-Tanak oil field early Friday. Another group, the activist collective of Deir El-Zor, also reported the seizure.
The field is in the eastern Syrian province of Deir El-Zor, near Iraq, and it followed the IS group’s seizure of Syria’s largest oil field on Thursday. Both oil fields were taken from other rebel groups.
IS now fully controls all of Syria’s main oil and gas fields, which are located in Deir el-Zour Province next to Iraq, a monitoring group said.
IS declared a “caliphate” in areas it controls in Syria and Iraq, where it is spearheading an offensive against government troops.
“IS took control of the Tanak oil field, located in the Sheiytat desert area in the east of Deir el-Zour Province,” late Thursday after rival rebels withdrew, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The group is led by an ambitious Iraqi militant known as Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who this week declared the establishment of a state, or caliphate, in the lands it has seized in Syria and Iraq.
It proclaimed Al-Baghdadi the head of its new self-styled state and demanded that all Muslims pledge allegiance to him.
Syria’s uprising began in March 2011 as largely peaceful demonstrations against President Bashar Assad’s rule. It escalated into an armed revolt after some opposition supporters took up arms to fight a brutal government crackdown on dissent.
That then turned into a civil war that has claimed more than 160,000 lives, about a third of them civilians, according to opposition activists. Militants also entered Syria during the upheaval of conflict, seizing territory claimed by armed rebels, and ultimately becoming the IS group.
The conflict has spilled over into Lebanon and Syria, generating a huge wave of refugees.
On Friday, a Syrian warplane carried out three airstrikes in an area about 7 km within Lebanese territory, killing a 12-year-old boy, a police official said.
The airstrikes occurred near the northeastern town of Arsal. One impacted near a jeep, killing a boy and wounding the rest of his family while on their way to pick cherries. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t allowed to speak to the media.
Al-Manar, a television station affiliated with the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, said the strikes targeted gunmen.
Syrian warplanes occasionally strike inside Lebanon, with supporters claiming they target gunmen. Syria’s conflict, now in its fourth year, has seeped into Lebanon with militants carrying out bomb attacks against Shiite and Hezbollah areas.