ISIS seizes last major oilfield under Syria regime control

Friday 04/09/2015
Jazal field has changed hands before

AMMAN - Islamic State fighters have seized an oil field in a vast desert area of central Syria where the army has been battling to regain ground from the ultra hardline militants, a group monitoring the conflict said on Monday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Jazal, a medium-sized field that lies to the north west of the Roman ruin city of Palmyra, was now under the "full control" of the militants.

Production was halted at the site, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said on Monday.

The Observatory said ISIS had also seized the town of Jazal by the oilfield, and the jihadist group issued a statement on social media claiming to have "liberated" the town.

The Observatory said Jazal, which previously produced around 2,500 barrels per day (bpd), was the last major oilfield under government control in Syria, though the regime has access to oil being pumped by Kurdish forces in the northeast.

The Jazal field has changed hands before, with ISIS briefly capturing it in June before regime troops retook it.

Official oil production in Syria has plummeted since the conflict began in March 2011.

By the end of 2014, it was down to 9,329 bpd from a pre-war output of 380,000 bpd.

ISIS has captured many of Syria's most productive oilfields, predominantly in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

In the northeastern province of Hasakeh, Kurdish forces control the major Rmeilan field and are refining crude there for the first time.