ISIS seizes last oil-field from Assad regime

ISIS fighters have seized the last oil-field still under the control of the Assad regime after several days of fighting, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Jazal field, with a production capacity of 2,500 barrels per day, has changed hands before, with ISIS briefly capturing it in June before regime forces retook it. The nearby town of Jazal has also been occupied by ISIS. Of course, the Assad regime has directly abetted the rise of ISIS by buying their oil, so now we will find out if the Islamic State will cut off Damascus and gear up for a final offensive—or if the relationship between the supposed enemies is in fact too incestuous for that. And Turkey has, up to now at least, also been a ready market for ISIS oil… A relationship also now being put to the test, as Ankara as ostensibly joined the US-led anti-ISIS coalition—despite having connived with ISIS against the Kurdish forces.

However, Lebanon's Daily Star reports that "the regime has access to oil being pumped by Kurdish forces in the northeast." So the Rojava Kurds are selling oil to Assad regime forces, even while fighting them? Really?

This contention is contradicted by UAE's The National:

In Syria, the Kurdish cantons of Jazira and Kobani are now linked, and divided from a third region, Afrin, only by a stretch under the control of ISIL and some mixed opposition groups, from the west bank of the Euphrates to the outskirts of Aleppo. Beyond Aleppo, an uneasy anti-Assad alliance holds Idlib province and runs almost to the Mediterranean.

The Syrian Kurds are currently producing small amounts of oil for local use, from fields formerly operated by China's Sinopec. The Sinopec fields yielded about 13,000 barrels per day in 2010, the last pre-war year, while the state Syrian Petroleum Company's fields pumped about 200,000 bpd. But with the pipeline running through ISIL territory and on to the regime-held Homs, the Syrian Kurds cannot export their oil.

In light of the mounting calumnies against the Rojava Kurds, we would like some clarity on this question. So, Daily Star: what is your source for the claim that the Kurds are selling oil to the regime? And Rojava leadership, what is your response to this claim?

We'll be waiting.

  1. Russian engineers working at ISIS-held gasworks?

    Foreign Policy on Feb. 9 cites unnamed Turkish officials (OK, maybe not the most objective source) to the effect that Syria's ISIS-held Tuweinan gas facility near Raqqa is still being run by the Russian firm Stroytransgaz that built it and its subcontractor Hesco, run by Russian-Syrian dual national George Haswani. Last November, the Treasury Department sanctioned Haswani for allegedly brokering oil sales between the Islamic State and the Assad regime, charges he denies.