World News

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Militants seize Syria oil field

Published 04/07/2014|11:17

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Islamic militants have taken an eastern oil field in Syria (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

Islamic militants have seized an eastern Syrian oil field as they tighten their grip on a length of the Euphrates river stretching through Syria and Iraq.

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The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that fighters from the Islamic State group seized the al-Tanak oil field on Friday. Another group, the activist collective of Deir el-Zour, also reported the seizure.

The field is in the eastern Syrian province of Deir el-Zour, near Iraq, and it followed the Islamic State group's seizure of Syria's largest oil field on Thursday. Both oil fields were taken from other rebel groups.

The extremist Sunni Muslim group now has nearly full control over a corridor from the Syrian provincial capital of Deir el-Zour to the border town of Boukamal. The area neighbours parts of northern and western Iraq that it seized last month, allowing the group to flow freely between the two countries.

The group is led by an ambitious Iraqi militant known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who this week declared the establishment of an Islamic 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. Al Qaida inspired militants also entered Syria during the upheaval of conflict, seizing territory claimed by armed rebels, and ultimately becoming the Islamic State 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 four miles (seven kilometers) within Lebanese territory, killing a 12-year-old boy.

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.

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 Islamic militants carrying out bomb attacks against Shiite and Hezbollah areas.

Press Association

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