Feb 27 2018

U.S. repels Iran advance on Syrian oilfields - report

The United States launched air strikes late on Monday against Iranian forces seeking to capture Syria’s oil-rich city of Deir al-Zor, currently under control of Kurdish groups, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu agency said.

The Iran-backed pro-Assad fighters retreated to areas already under their control after the U.S. air force hit ammunition supplies in the neighbouring Salihye district, Anadolu said citing local sources it did not identify.

The United States killed dozens of Russian mercenaries in Deir al-Zor earlier this month after fighters loyal to Assad, backed by tanks and artillery, fired on a Syrian Defence Forces (SDF) base where U.S. military advisers were stationed. The clash was the first lethal violence in Syria between nationals of the two superpowers.

Pro-Assad Iranian forces have captured 22 areas in Deir al-Zor, Anadolu said, without providing further details.

The Kurdish-dominated SDF, which includes the People’s Protection Units (PYD), seized energy facilities in Deir al-Zor in September, including a Conoco-run gas plant and the Al-Omar and Jafra oilfields. Oil facilities in the area constitute about one-third of Syria’s total energy reserves.

The Conoco gas field and plant lies about 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) north of Deir al-Zor town.

Syria's known oil reserves are mainly in the eastern part of the country in Deir al-Zor, which is near the border with Iraq, and along the Euphrates River. A number of smaller fields are also located in the centre of the country. Syria produced around 385,000 barrels per day of crude in 2010, just prior to the onset of the civil war.