Meanwhile in Syria, the regime is close to retaking Aleppo. Sheikh Najjar is back in government hands.
Al-Omar and Tanak oil fields on Iraq border falls to the Islamic State after rival fighters withdraw, activists say.
Last updated: 04 Jul 2014 12:01
Video shows armed men outside what they said was the entrance to al-Omar oil field [YouTube]
|Fighters from the Islamic State group have seized all of Syria's main oil and gas fields, which are located in Deir Az Zor province next to Iraq, a monitoring group has said.|
"IS took control of the Tanak oil field, located in the Sheiytat desert area in the east of Deir Ezzor province," late Thursday after rival rebels withdrew, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Friday.
Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the Syrian Observatory's statement due to reporting restrictions inside Syria.
Early on Thursday the group seized Syria's largest oil field - al-Omar oil field - on the Iraqi border, forcing the withdrawal of rival fighters.
They have still not captured the tiny al-Ward field, which produces about 200 barrels of oil per day and is in the hands of a local tribe, Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The Nusra Front, which controlled al-Omar since late last year, abandoned the facility on Thursday without firing a bullet, the monitoring group said.
video uploaded to YouTube shows a man identified as "Commander Hammam" saying: " We took it [the oil field] over without any fighting. They fled like rats."
Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the authenticity of the video.
In Deir Az Zor, the Islamic State - formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) - has taken over nearly all the countryside. Its forces are bolstered by heavy weapons captured from Iraqi troops fleeing an offensive that it led.
Al Jazeera's Rula Amin, reporting from Beirut in neighbouring Lebanon, said the Islamic State now controlled "a huge expanse of land about five times the size of Lebanon" and oil assets that could produce 35,000 barrels a day.
Al-Omar field has changed hands several times in the course of Syria's three-year conflict.
The Nusra Front and several other allied factions captured it from forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in November.
Nusra fighters also withdrew from Mayadeen and Shuhail in Deir Az Zor on Thursday, according to the Syrian Observatory. Local tribal fighters had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, it added.
Regime forces in decisive Aleppo battle
Regime forces advanced farther into the industrial city in Aleppo's Sheikh Najjar district Thursday, as fighting continued between rebels and the Syrian army on the outskirts of the area, according to pro-regime al-Mayadin Channel.
Pro-opposition news network Aksalser corroborated the report, noting that “overlapping news sources” had confirmed Syrian army control over large swathes of the industrial city.
The entrance to Sheikh Najjar Industrial City outside Aleppo. Photo courtesy of
“The area was exposed to more than 20 air raids this morning,” a citizen journalist named Yassin told Syria Direct, “which coincided with the regime gaining control of wide parts of the industrial city, especially industrial area 3.”
“They are now moving to gain control of the entire industrial city.”
The industrial city is considered one of the most important rebel-held points in the city of Aleppo. It is home to several factories and provides entrance to Aleppo from the northeast, as regime forces attempt to encircle Aleppo militarily and close points of entry and exit.
HRW: All sides commit violations against Syrian women
The Syrian government, pro-government forces and opposition forces—including the Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat a-Nusra—have all committed human rights violations against women,according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released on Thursday.
One woman interviewed by HRW said she was arrested for distributing medical supplies in Aleppo. She said the police electrocuted her when she refused to reveal the names of other activists.
The HRW report also documents the complex and varied roles that women have played since the onset of the conflict, working as activists, distributing aid and assuming greater responsibility in the household as a result of male deaths in the family.
The New York-based rights group compiled information from interviews with 17 Syrian women who are now refugees in Turkey.
More than 1,500 women have been detained in Syria since the beginning of the conflict, according to the Syrian monitoring group Violations Documentation Center.
The HRW report was released on the eve of a UN convention Friday in Geneva that will review the current status of Syrian women.
Jabhat a-Nusra fighters defect as IS closes in
A group of fighters affiliated with Jabhat a-Nusra in Deir e-Zor defected to the Islamic State (IS) in a video posted online Wednesday, reported pro-opposition news site Aksalser on Thursday.
“We have decided to declare allegiance to IS and the Muslim caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,”announced fighters from the village of a-Shuail, in the countryside of Deir e-Zor.
The fighters include members of local tribes, Jaish al-Islam, Liwa Akhlas and the Islamic Jaish Mu’eta, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The defections come in the wake of IS capturing the town of al-Kasar, the site of a Jabhat a-Nusra base in Deir e-Zor just north of a-Shuail, on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, IS gained control of the Syria-Iraq border town of al-Bokamel in Deir e-Zor on Tuesday after clashes in the city over the weekend.
The eastern, oil-rich province of Deir e-Zor has been a battleground between IS, opposition fighters, and the regime for several months.
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