US-backed fighters make major advance against IS in Syria

Associated Press

BEIRUT

U.S.-backed fighters captured Syria’s largest oil field from the Islamic State group Sunday, marking a major advance against the extremists in an area coveted by pro-government forces.

With IS in retreat, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian government have been in a race to secure parts of the oil-rich Deir el-Zour province along the border with Iraq.

The Al-Omar oil field was a major source of income for the militant group and is considered one Syria’s most productive. The condition of the field, which has been controlled by IS for three years, was not clear following intense coalition and Russian airstrikes.

The SDF, with air support from the U.S.-led coalition, said it captured the field in a “swift and wide military operation.” It said some militants have taken cover in oil company houses nearby, where clashes are underway. The U.S.-led coalition confirmed the SDF had retaken the oil field.

After coming under heavy fire from IS, pro-government forces retreated from the area around Al-Omar field, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The SDF said government forces were 3 kilometers (2 miles) away from the fields.

Syrian troops, backed by Russian warplanes and Iranian-sponsored militias, have retaken nearly all of the provincial capital of Deir el-Zour, as well as the town of Mayadeen, another IS stronghold, which is across the Euphrates River from the Al-Omar field.

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