US-backed fighters seize major Syrian oil field

An oil field controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in Rmeilan, Hassakeh province, northeast Syria. The SDF, with air support from the U.S.-led coalition, said Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017 that they had captured the Al-Omar field, Syria's largest oil field, from the Daesh group, marking a major advance against the extremists and for now keeping the area out of the hands of pro-government forces. (AP)
Updated 22 October 2017
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US-backed fighters seize major Syrian oil field

JEDDAH: The US-led coalition said allied fighters captured Syria’s largest oil field from Daesh on Sunday, marking a major advance against the extremists in an area coveted by pro-regime forces.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor relying on a network of sources inside Syria, told Arab News that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) took control of the oil field two days after Daesh retreated. Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said the alliance did not face any resistance.
“The Syrian Democratic Forces seize the whole of the oil field,” the alliance said in a statement to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
With Daesh in retreat, the Kurdish-led SDF and the Syrian regime have been in a race to secure parts of the oil-rich Deir Ezzor province along the border with Iraq.
The SDF, with air support from the US-led coalition, said it captured the oil field in a “swift and wide military operation.”
It added that some militants had taken cover in oil company houses nearby, where clashes were underway.
Abdel Rahman told Arab News that pro-regime forces retreated from the area around Al-Omar field after coming under heavy fire from Daesh. The SDF said regime forces are 3 km away from the field.
Regime troops, backed by Russian warplanes and Iranian-sponsored militias, have retaken nearly all of the provincial capital of Deir Ezzor, as well as the town of Mayadeen, which is across the Euphrates River from Al-Omar oil field.


 
The SDF has focused its operations in rural Deir Ezzor on the eastern side of the river, and has seized a major natural gas field and smaller oil fields.
Omar Abu Layla, a Europe-based activist from Deir Ezzor who monitors the fighting through contacts there, told the Associated Press (AP) that the SDF has seized control of the oil field but is still clashing with militants in the adjacent housing complex.
The SDF’s gains come as Russia’s Defense Ministry accused the US-led coalition of wiping the Syrian city of Raqqa “off the face of the earth” via carpet bombing in the same way the US and Britain bombed Germany’s Dresden in 1945.
According to Reuters, the ministry said it looked like the West is now rushing to provide financial aid to Raqqa to cover up evidence of its own crimes.
Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said around 200,000 people lived in Raqqa before the Syrian conflict, but no more than 45,000 remain.
“Raqqa has inherited the fate of Dresden in 1945, wiped off the face of the earth by Anglo-American bombardments,” he said in a statement.


Israel quiet on US claims it hit Iraq militia in Syria

Updated 19 June 2018
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Israel quiet on US claims it hit Iraq militia in Syria

  • The Sunday evening strike against the Al-Hari base on the Syrian side of the border with Iraq came less than 24 hours after Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would strike Iran’s “proxies” anywhere in Syria
  • Syrian authorities and the Iraqi paramilitaries both blamed Washington for the strike, which killed at least 52 fighters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

JERUSALEM: Israel declined to comment on Tuesday on a weekend air strike against an Iraqi paramilitary base in eastern Syria after its US ally implicated it in the attack.
The Sunday evening strike against the Al-Hari base on the Syrian side of the border with Iraq came less than 24 hours after Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would strike Iran’s “proxies” anywhere in Syria.
Fighters of Iraq’s Hashed Al-Shaabi paramilitary force, mainly composed of Iran-trained Shiite militia, have played a major role in the war against the Sunni extremists of the Daesh group in Syria as well as Iraq.
But their presence has sparked confrontations with both Washington, which has been supporting a Kurdish-led alliance that controls other parts of eastern Syria, and Israel, which fears Iranian-inspired attacks on its forces in the occupied Golan Heights.
Syrian authorities and the Iraqi paramilitaries both blamed Washington for the strike, which killed at least 52 fighters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
But US officials denied any involvement and instead pointed the finger at Israel.
“We have reasons to believe that it was an Israeli strike,” one US official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The Israeli military declined to be drawn on the US claims. “We are not commenting on foreign reports,” a spokeswoman said.
The military has carried out previous strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, but most have been significantly closer to Israel or the Israeli-occupied Golan.
Last month, Israel launched a large-scale attack on what it said were Iranian targets in Syria, raising fears of a major confrontation.
Those strikes followed a barrage of rockets that Israel said was fired toward its forces in the occupied Golan by Iran from Syria.
Even before that, Israel had been blamed for a series of recent strikes inside Syria that killed Iranians, though it has not acknowledged them.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday morning, Netanyahu reiterated his position that “Iran needs to withdraw from all of Syria.”
“We will take action — and are already taking action — against efforts to establish a military presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria both close to the border and deep inside Syria,” the prime minister said.
“We will act against these efforts anywhere in Syria.”
Israeli seized a large swathe of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.
Iran has been a close ally of the Syrian regime for some four decades and, with Russia, has been a key supporter in the civil war that broke out in 2011.