US- backed forces seize major oilfield in Syria
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), dominated by the Syrian-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), said they took al-Omar field on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River in the early hours.
Turkey considers the YPG as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), hence a terrorist organization.
“Our forces liberated the fields without notable damages,” said a SDF spokesperson.
The jihadists holed up in buildings in a nearby district, where the SDF was trying to hunt them down, the spoekesperson said.
With U.S.-led jets and special forces, the SDF has been battling in Deir ez-Zor bordering Iraq. The group has focused on territory east of the river, which bisects the oil-rich province.
The Syrian army, with Russian air power and Iran-backed militias, has been waging its own separate offensive against ISIL, mostly to the west of the river.
The U.S.-led coalition and the Russian military have been holding de-confliction meetings - to prevent clashes between planes and troops - though the two offensives have sometimes come into conflict.
ISIL has lost vast territory across Syria, and has now come under attack in its last footholds in a strip of the Euphrates valley and the desert in Deir ez-Zor.
The SDF declared victory over the jihadists in their former headquarters in Raqqa city last week. Last month, they captured a major natural gas field upstream of Oct. 22’s advance.
Al-Omar oil field lies some 10 kilometers north of the town of al-Mayadin, which government troops and their allies took earlier this month. The town had turned into a major base for ISIL militants after the U.S.-backed offensive drove them out of Raqqa.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said ISIL militants who had withdrawn from the oil field mounted a counter-attack overnight against government forces. The militants made some gains around al-Mayadin, the Britain-based monitor said.
But a Syrian military source denied this, saying there was no significant attack and fighting raged on at the same pace.
Any attack by the ISIL militants there was a “desperate attempt”, the source said. “The Syrian Arab Army is attacking, hitting Daesh positions...and advancing,” the source said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIL.