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.