Major Syrian gas field hit by explosions tied to ISIL

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Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) blew up several pumping stations at a major Syrian gas field on May 16.

The explosions at the Shaer gas field were reportedly felt as far away as Palmyra, which is 50 meters (30 miles) southeast of Shaer.

Explosion at Shaer gas field in Syria.
Explosion at Shaer gas field in Syria.

“There were three huge explosions there carried out by ISIL,” said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The area around the gas field, one of the largest in Homs province, has been the site of fierce fighting between ISIL jihadists and Syrian government loyalists in recent weeks. ISIS seized the Shaer field last week, but Syrian armed forces and pro-government militias have fought hard to get it back.

Syrian state news agency SANA reported on May 16 that government forces had seized a hilltop just west of the field.

Meanwhile, U.S.-led coalition and Turkish forces killed 27 ISIL jihadists north of the city of Aleppo on May 15, Anadolu Agency and other media reported.

Five fortified defense posts and two gun posts were destroyed, while 27 fighters were killed in areas less than 10 kilometers from Turkey’s border, the report said.

Elsewhere, Turkish authorities detained seven suspected ISIL members, including figures described as a senior leader and an “executioner,” Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency said.

The seven suspects were detained during raids on addresses in the eastern region of Elazig. Large numbers of documents were also seized, it added.

Also on May 16, a Pentagon spokesman said ISIL continues to lose control over territory across Iraq and Syria, including almost half of what it had once held in Iraq.

“The number right now in Iraq is about 45 percent of the territory they once held has been recovered,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said. “The number in Syria is anywhere between 16 to 20 percent.”