ISIS fighters have seized an oil field in a vast desert area of central Syria where the army has been battling to regain ground from the ultra hardline militants, a group monitoring the conflict said Monday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Jazal, a medium-sized field that lies to the north west of the Roman ruin city of Palmyra, was now under the “full control” of the militants

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The Observatory said ISIS had also seized the town of Jazal by the oilfield, and the extremist group issued a statement on social media claiming to have “liberated” the town.

Abdel Rahman said Jazal, which previously produced around 2,500 barrels per day (bpd), was the last major oilfield under government control in Syria, though the regime has access to oil being pumped by Kurdish forces in the northeast.

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The Jazal field has changed hands before, with ISIS briefly capturing it in June before regime troops retook it.

Official oil production in Syria has plummeted since the conflict began in March 2011.

By the end of 2014, it was down to 9,329 bpd from a pre-war output of 380,000 bpd.

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ISIS has captured many of Syria’s most productive oilfields, predominantly in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor.

In the northeastern province of Hassakeh, Kurdish forces control the major Rmeilan field and are refining crude there for the first time.

Daily Star Lebanon