Beirut: Islamist rebels led by al Qaeda-linked fighters seized the largest oil field in eastern Syria on Saturday, activists said, a raid which would cut off President Bashar al-Assad`s forces` access to almost all local crude reserves.
There was no immediate comment from the government. Losing the al-Omar oil field would mean Assad`s forces would be almost completely reliant on imported oil in their fight to end the country`s 2-1/2-year revolt.
It was not yet clear how much the raid would affect Assad`s forces` military capability, but the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said it would be a major blow.
"Now, nearly all of Syria`s usable oil reserves are in the hands of the Nusra Front and other Islamist units," said Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Observatory.
"The regime`s neck is now in Nusra`s hands," he said.
Assad is also believed to be getting fuel from Iran, his main regional ally. Tehran has been bankrolling the Syrian government`s fight against the rebels and offering military support.
A video posted on the internet showed rebel fighters in camouflage and black scarves driving a tank under a sign that read "Euphrates Oil Company - al-Omar field". The speaker said the field was captured at dawn on Saturday, but the authenticity of the footage could not be independently verified.