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Syrian surprise: Al-Qaeda branch kills rebel leaders; invades oil field

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The Obama administration-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) reported on Saturday that two of its top leaders were abducted and then killed by al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorists who now call themselves the Islamist State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The two commanders, Mohammad al-Qadi and Ahmad Jahar, were allegedly captured while leading a convoy from Turkey into Syria with supplies including food and medicine, according to Alarabiya News.

They were said to be last seen at an ISIS camp in the town of Azaz, but later their bodies were found by civilians in the outskirts of Azaz, Syria.

"While the U.S. Commander in Chief Barack Hussein Obama tours the U.S. like a snake-oil salesman pushing Obamacare on people who don't trust him, al-Qaeda continues to create havoc in the Middle East and Africa," said Islamic terrorism expert and former police task force member Gerald O'Halleran.

For example, this week the Free Syrian Army and its largest contingent known as the Al-Nusra Front managed to take over the Al-Omar oil field in Deir ez-Zor, after a battle with Syrian government forces that lasted several days, according to a report released by Israel's non-governmental agency (NGO) Meir Amit Information Center, an anti-terrorism think-tank.

Syrian rebels, mostly members of the al-Qaeda's Syrian branch the Al-Nusra Front, drove a tank with “Al-Omar oil field” written on it, forcing the Syrian government guards to withdraw from the oil field. The rebels then seized seven military tanks and other weapons at the oil field. However, the Syrian government-controlled news media failed to report the invasion and occupation of Syria's largest oil field.

An Al-Arabiya reporter noted that by taking over the oil field and the Syrian army base located there, the rebels annexed a larger area in Syria.

The invasion of the Al-Omar oil field, along with the bombing of a major oil refinery caused further damage to the Syrian oil production and exportation, which has been in ruins since the rebellion erupted, according to the American Center for Democracy.

According to Meir Amit:

"Most of Syria’s oil infrastructure is now in the hands of the rebel organizations, the most prominent of which is the Al-Nusra Front. The Al-Omar oil field, southwest of Deir ez-Zor, is the only field that remained in the hands of the Syrian regime until recently, after it regained control of the field in early 2013. According to the Syrian regime, this field has produced some 20,000 barrels a day. It was reported that in early 2010, the field had a production capacity of some 200,000 barrels a day."

The takeover of the Al-Omar oil field is the latest step in the process of the Syrian government's infrastructures being commandeered by the Al-Nusra Front and other Islamist rebel groups, something that is feared throughout the Middle East and among counterterrorism experts.

Assad's valuable assets that have been taken over by Islamist rebels in northern and eastern Syria include oil and gas fields and pipelines, dams, power plants, and grain silos.

"After taking over these assets, the Al-Nusra Front and other rebel organizations operate them, in several cases after entering into tacit agreements with the Syrian regime [supplying oil and gas to the regime that they are fighting against in return for a fee]," said Meir Amit analysts.

The profits from operating the oil fields garners monthly revenues that help the Islamists finance the payment of salaries, purchase weapons and provide assistance to the population in the so-called liberated territories.



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