Syria says its forces destroy trucks carrying smuggled oil

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Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have destroyed several trucks carrying crude oil being smuggled from eastern oil fields to Turkey, state television said on Wednesday.

It said the tankers were being taken from Tayem oil field, which rebel sources said earlier this month was partly under the control of rebel forces.

Syrian television did not say exactly where the tankers had been hit, but said “terrorists” smuggling the consignment had been killed in the attack.

Crude from the Tayem field, close to the eastern city of Deir al-Zor, had until recently been shared between rebels and government forces, the sources said.

Some was piped to the government’s coastal refinery in Banias in return for rebels siphoning off some to sell locally or smuggle across the border to Turkey.

Syrian Oil Minister Suleiman Abbas was quoted as telling parliament on Tuesday that oil production had collapsed from380,000 barrels per day before the crisis to just 20,000 barrels per day.

It was not clear whether Abbas was referring to actual production levels or the volume of oil received by the government. Gas production had halved to 15 million cubic meters a day, he said in comments reported by al-Baath newspaper.

The shortfall in crude supplies meant the government had to import oil at a cost of $500 million a month, Abbas said.

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