In what could be a serious blow to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Syrian rebels have captured the country's largest oil field.
The al-Omar oil field is seen as a major prize for the rebels. While both sides heavily rely on fuel to supply their forces, two and a half years of civil war have depleted the country's oil production. (Via Channel 4)
The rebels are made up of mostly Sunnis and have found support among radical Sunni groups. That includes Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra front, which led the overnight attack. (Via PBS)
As observers have pointed out this latest development effectively cuts the Assad regime off from local crude reserves, leaving it dependent on oil imports.
As the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group put it: "Now, nearly all of Syria's usable oil reserves are in the hands of the Nusra Front and other Islamist units. … The regime's neck is now in Nusra's hands." (Via The Guardian)
There has been no immediate comment from the Syrian government, though its warplanes are said to have bombed the city of Aleppo the same day, killing at least 40. (Via BBC)
By most accounts, Assad's troops have gained the upper hand in recent months — forcing rebels out of the capital city of Damascus as well as Aleppo. In turn, the opposition group has responded with a string of suicide bombings aimed at regime targets. (Via ITN)
Both sides say they're ready to attend an international peace conference in Geneva. It's still unclear whether that will actually happen — the rebels have a list of preconditions they want met before they'll come to the negotiating table.