The Islamic State militant group is gaining energy leverage on the Syrian regime.
On Tuesday, the Islamic State (known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) blew up a gas pipeline near the T-4 military airport in east of central Homs province after midnight, according to 9 News.
"This pipeline was used to carry gas into the suburbs of Damascus and Homs to generate electricity and provide heating in individual homes," the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, said.
The incident is the latest ISIS-induced pain on Assad's energy resources as the terror army has taken control of numerous oil and gas fields in the Homs province.
The group's recent takeover of Palmyra gave them control of key gas fields that serve as the "hub between the extraction or transfer of virtually all of Syria's gas production and the processing and power plants further west that supply electricity and gas for domestic and industrial use to those parts of the country where most of the population lives," according to Yezid Sayigh, a senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut.
By taking Palmyra, Sayigh noted, ISIS is "depriving the [Assad] regime of 45% of its gas and electricity resources, according to Syrian opposition estimates."
Gas, unlike oil, requires sophisticated equipment and special pipelines to be transferred. Sayigh writes that "most of Syria's gas infrastructure is oriented to delivering gas westward, where most of the specialized processing and electricity generation plants lie — under Assad's control."
However, it's not just about depriving the Assad regime. Given that the Assad regime is a business partner of ISIS, the chaos makes sense in terms of making more money.
"Instead of merely being a customer for [Islamic State's] oil, the regime is understood to be running some oil and gas installations jointly with the terrorist movement," The Telegraph reported last year in a report detailing a gas facility, jointly run by the regime and ISIS, that supplied government-held areas.
Consequently, ISIS can gain leverage in the business relationship by destroying or capturing more of Assad's resources.
In late May, ISIS also blew up gas pipeline near regime-held Furqlus, which not only contains a huge gas field, but also the Ebla treatment plant, a Russian-owned Gazprom treatment plant and distribution facility that connects the oil and gas pipelines that make up the Syria's Arab pipeline.
As Sayigh writes:
"The regime contains a very large, if old, production facility to immediate north of near Homs. Conversely the Islamic State does not possess enough plants to enable it to produce and market usable gas for domestic or industrial purposes, and it is unlikely to capture what it needs in working order. So [ISIS] may be seeking to compel the regime into an exchange: continued flow of gas from eastern fields to regime power plants in return for payment or electricity supply."
Check out Yezid Sayigh's full analysis on Carnegie here.
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