[QODLink]
Middle East

Syrian army retakes gas field from fighters

Activists confirm military's claim of recapture of Shaar gas field in desert region of Palmyra from Islamic State group.

Last updated: 30 Jul 2014 06:29
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
The Syrian army said in a statement it had taken the Shaar gas field after a 'precise operation'

The Syrian army has recaptured a gas field east of the central city of Homs that was seized by fighters from Islamic State earlier this month, according to state media and opposition activists.

Syrian television showed footage of soldiers running and deploying in a vast desert area which it said was the Shaar gas field in the desert region of Palmyra.

Mahmoud al-Homsi, an activist opposed to President Bashar al-Assad’s government, confirmed to Al Jazeera via Skype from Homs that the army was now in control of the field.

The Syrian army, in a statement on Sunday, said it retook the field after a "precise operation in which dozens of terrorists were killed".

However, a source from the Islamic State said the fighters pulled out after destroying the gas field's equipment and capturing at least 15 tanks and dozens of rockets which were used to guard the facility.

"We pulled out because it was no longer good for us to stay. The goal was to get the tanks and rockets present at the field and we did," he told the Reuters news agency.

"There is no point in staying there and become an easy target for the regime and its warplanes."

Homsi told Al Jazeera that the recapture of the gas field dealt a blow to the Islamic State.

"The Shaar field is an important military base that the army used to protect nearby villages that are loyal to Assad," he said.

Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told Al Jazeera that Islamic State fighters were forced to withdraw as a result of intense shelling by regime troops.

The Islamic State, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, has advanced in Syria and taken over large expanses of territory in neighbouring Iraq in what it has described as a bid to establish an Islamic caliphate.

In Syria’s northeast, the Islamic State on Sunday seized an army position in the city of Hasakeh, following three days of battle, where at least 85 regime troops were killed, according to the Syrian Observatory.

At least 1,100 soldiers and pro-Assad fighters have been killed since the Islamic State intensified its attacks against government forces this month, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

During the assault on the field, Islamic State fighters killed at least 270 soldiers, guards and staff and also killed at least 85 soldiers when they captured an army base in the province of Raqqa on Friday, the Syrian Observatory said.

The fighters said they decapitated most of the soldiers and hung several heads outside the base gates.

455

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.