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Syrian Rebels Seize Control of Oil Field From Assad

Syrian Rebels Seize Control of Oil Field From Assad thumbnail

A group of Syrian rebel brigades, including an affiliate of Al Qaeda, seized a large oil and gas field from government forces on Saturday, opposition activists said, further depriving the government of President Bashar al-Assad of the resources it needs to remain solvent.

Videos posted online showed scores of black-clad rebels walking through a large arch over an entrance to the Omar oil field, rummaging through its buildings and standing atop tanks.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based opposition group that monitors the war, said a number of rebel brigades seized the area after an overnight battle and the withdrawal of government troops. Among the groups that participated were the Islam Army, which was formed east of Damascus, the Syrian capital, and the Nusra Front, which is affiliated with Al Qaeda.

Two and a half years of civil war in Syria and strict international sanctions have battered the country’s oil sector, once an important source of government revenue.

Syria’s oil and gas fields are concentrated in the country’s largely rebel-controlled north and east. Most have been taken over by rebels or Kurdish militias, some of which finance their operations by selling the small amounts of crude they produce or processing it locally into usable gasoline products.

It was unclear whether the field’s production infrastructure had been damaged and whether the rebels would be able to maintain control, much less resume production.

Also on Saturday, a British think tank released a report saying more than 11,000 children had been killed since the uprising began in March 2011, including hundreds who were shot by snipers or executed after capture and 112 who were tortured.

The report, published by the Oxford Research Group, based its findings on the databases of four Syrian organizations that seek to document the war.

But not all agreed with its findings. Rami Abdul Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said many of its numbers appeared to be high.

His organization, which was not cited in the report, has documented the deaths of only 6,490 children as of mid-November, including only about 20 who had been tortured.

He said any documentation of deaths in Syria must navigate efforts by both sides to exaggerate their enemies’ crimes and whitewash their own.

“Now in Syria we have a huge problem with propaganda, both from the Syrian regime and from the rebels,” he said.

Government forces carried out a series of airstrikes in and around the northern city of Aleppo on Saturday, killing more than 40 people, most of them reported by activists to be civilians.

Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, has been divided between government- and rebel-controlled zones for more than a year, although the rebels control the territory north of the city to the Turkish border and have used it to organize and manage supplies.

Still, they remain largely helpless against the government’s air power.

Airstrikes in rebel-held parts of the city killed 22 people, including one woman and four children, said the observatory. One strike appeared to be aimed at a rebel headquarters but hit a market nearby, it said.

Other airstrikes hit in and near the rebel-held city of Al Bab, killing 22 people, according to the observatory and Bari Abdul-Latif, an antigovernment activist in Al Bab who was reached via Skype.

Mr. Abdul-Latif said that warplanes remained in the sky throughout much of the day and that the strikes hit near a school and the headquarters of a local aid organization.

The observatory said at least seven government soldiers were also killed in clashes in Aleppo Province on Saturday.

The Syrian state news media did not comment on the fighting near the oil fields or on the airstrikes in Aleppo Province.

They did report that Syria’s reconciliation minister, Ali Haidar, had survived an assassination attempt when gunmen opened fire on one of his cars as it drove through a government-controlled area near the Mediterranean coast. Mr. Haidar was not in the car, but his driver was killed.

New York Times



4 Comments on "Syrian Rebels Seize Control of Oil Field From Assad"

  1. bobinget on Sun, 24th Nov 2013 10:13 pm 

    Iran and Russia will send reinforcements.
    When the tide turns, Saudi Arabia sends in more jihadists. This will continue till every Syrian has left the country dead or alive but broken and bitter.

  2. peakyeast on Mon, 25th Nov 2013 12:23 am 

    I wonder why 10.000 dead children counts when the U.S. imposed sanctions on Iraq killed about 600.000 children – and were obviously A-OKAY. In the name of freedom and democrazy we will kill these children and they will go to a christian heaven for their gracious sacrifice.

    I guess the morale is: Its okay for US to kill children, but if others do it – then its muy bad…muy muy bad…

  3. DC on Mon, 25th Nov 2013 12:40 am 

    NYT=not a credible source.

    How can you tell?, well its the NYT for starters. But a good tip-off was they keep quoting that long discredited ‘Syrian observatory for Human Rights’.

    I am sure the NTY will probably keep reporting that the US AL-Q brigades are on the brink of victory, even as they flee back to their safe havens in Turkey, Jordan and Israel.

  4. BillT on Mon, 25th Nov 2013 1:17 am 

    “Syrian Rebels (western sponsored terrorists) Seize Control of Oil Field From Assad”

    And the beat goes on…

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