The Syrian Oil Spill

Published July 23rd, 2020 - 11:36 GMT

In his village near a northeast Syria oil facility, Abdulkarim Matar said he has watched his horses die because of oil spills that have polluted waterways in the resource-rich region.

The landowner said winter floods caused oil waste from a nearby storage facility to spill over onto his land.

"The oil waste... sticks to our soil and agricultural lands" the 48-year-old said, complaining of a poor harvest in the village of Abu Hajar.

"I have lost two Arabian horses because of the river water", he added, explaining they had drunk water contaminated by oil.

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A man works at a makeshift refinery using burners to distill crude oil in the village of Bishiriya in the countryside near the town of Qahtaniya west of Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on July 19, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP

A man works at a makeshift refinery using burners to distill crude oil in the village of Bishiriya in the countryside near the town of Qahtaniya west of Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on July 19, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP

Oil pollution in Syria has become a growing concern since the 2011 onset of a civil war that has taken a toll on oil infrastructure and seen rival powers compete over control of key hydrocarbon fields. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP

Oil pollution in Syria has become a growing concern since the 2011 onset of a civil war that has taken a toll on oil infrastructure and seen rival powers compete over control of key hydrocarbon fields. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP

In the Kurdish-held northeast, a large storage facility in the Rmeilan oil field in Hasakeh province is of particular concern, with leaks from the Gir Zero storage facility have been suspected since at least 2014, and the latest just in March 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP

In the Kurdish-held northeast, a large storage facility in the Rmeilan oil field in Hasakeh province is of particular concern, with leaks from the Gir Zero storage facility have been suspected since at least 2014, and the latest just in March 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP

A man works at a makeshift refinery using burners to distill crude oil in the village of Bishiriya in the countryside near the town of Qahtaniya west of Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on July 19, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP

A man works at a makeshift refinery using burners to distill crude oil in the village of Bishiriya in the countryside near the town of Qahtaniya west of Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on July 19, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP

In the Kurdish-held northeast, a large storage facility in the Rmeilan oil field in Hasakeh province is of particular concern, with leaks from the Gir Zero storage facility have been suspected since at least 2014, and the latest just in March 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP

In the Kurdish-held northeast, a large storage facility in the Rmeilan oil field in Hasakeh province is of particular concern, with leaks from the Gir Zero storage facility have been suspected since at least 2014, and the latest just in March 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP

A man walks at a makeshift refinery using burners to distill crude oil in the village of Bishiriya in the countryside near the town of Qahtaniya west of Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on July 19, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP

A man walks at a makeshift refinery using burners to distill crude oil in the village of Bishiriya in the countryside near the town of Qahtaniya west of Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on July 19, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP

Oil pollution in Syria has become a growing concern since the 2011 onset of a civil war that has taken a toll on oil infrastructure and seen rival powers compete over control of key hydrocarbon fields. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP

Oil pollution in Syria has become a growing concern since the 2011 onset of a civil war that has taken a toll on oil infrastructure and seen rival powers compete over control of key hydrocarbon fields. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP

US military vehicle pass by sheep grazing and drinking from a stream polluted by an oil spill near the village of Sukayriyah, in the countryside south of Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on July 19, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP

US military vehicle pass by sheep grazing and drinking from a stream polluted by an oil spill near the village of Sukayriyah, in the countryside south of Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on July 19, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP

A man works at a makeshift refinery using burners to distill crude oil in the village of Bishiriya in the countryside near the town of Qahtaniya west of Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on July 19, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
Oil pollution in Syria has become a growing concern since the 2011 onset of a civil war that has taken a toll on oil infrastructure and seen rival powers compete over control of key hydrocarbon fields. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
In the Kurdish-held northeast, a large storage facility in the Rmeilan oil field in Hasakeh province is of particular concern, with leaks from the Gir Zero storage facility have been suspected since at least 2014, and the latest just in March 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
A man works at a makeshift refinery using burners to distill crude oil in the village of Bishiriya in the countryside near the town of Qahtaniya west of Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on July 19, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
In the Kurdish-held northeast, a large storage facility in the Rmeilan oil field in Hasakeh province is of particular concern, with leaks from the Gir Zero storage facility have been suspected since at least 2014, and the latest just in March 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
A man walks at a makeshift refinery using burners to distill crude oil in the village of Bishiriya in the countryside near the town of Qahtaniya west of Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on July 19, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
Oil pollution in Syria has become a growing concern since the 2011 onset of a civil war that has taken a toll on oil infrastructure and seen rival powers compete over control of key hydrocarbon fields. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
US military vehicle pass by sheep grazing and drinking from a stream polluted by an oil spill near the village of Sukayriyah, in the countryside south of Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on July 19, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
A man works at a makeshift refinery using burners to distill crude oil in the village of Bishiriya in the countryside near the town of Qahtaniya west of Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on July 19, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
A man works at a makeshift refinery using burners to distill crude oil in the village of Bishiriya in the countryside near the town of Qahtaniya west of Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on July 19, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
Oil pollution in Syria has become a growing concern since the 2011 onset of a civil war that has taken a toll on oil infrastructure and seen rival powers compete over control of key hydrocarbon fields. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
Oil pollution in Syria has become a growing concern since the 2011 onset of a civil war that has taken a toll on oil infrastructure and seen rival powers compete over control of key hydrocarbon fields. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
In the Kurdish-held northeast, a large storage facility in the Rmeilan oil field in Hasakeh province is of particular concern, with leaks from the Gir Zero storage facility have been suspected since at least 2014, and the latest just in March 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
In the Kurdish-held northeast, a large storage facility in the Rmeilan oil field in Hasakeh province is of particular concern, with leaks from the Gir Zero storage facility have been suspected since at least 2014, and the latest just in March 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
A man works at a makeshift refinery using burners to distill crude oil in the village of Bishiriya in the countryside near the town of Qahtaniya west of Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on July 19, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
A man works at a makeshift refinery using burners to distill crude oil in the village of Bishiriya in the countryside near the town of Qahtaniya west of Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on July 19, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
In the Kurdish-held northeast, a large storage facility in the Rmeilan oil field in Hasakeh province is of particular concern, with leaks from the Gir Zero storage facility have been suspected since at least 2014, and the latest just in March 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
In the Kurdish-held northeast, a large storage facility in the Rmeilan oil field in Hasakeh province is of particular concern, with leaks from the Gir Zero storage facility have been suspected since at least 2014, and the latest just in March 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
A man walks at a makeshift refinery using burners to distill crude oil in the village of Bishiriya in the countryside near the town of Qahtaniya west of Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on July 19, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
A man walks at a makeshift refinery using burners to distill crude oil in the village of Bishiriya in the countryside near the town of Qahtaniya west of Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on July 19, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
Oil pollution in Syria has become a growing concern since the 2011 onset of a civil war that has taken a toll on oil infrastructure and seen rival powers compete over control of key hydrocarbon fields. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
Oil pollution in Syria has become a growing concern since the 2011 onset of a civil war that has taken a toll on oil infrastructure and seen rival powers compete over control of key hydrocarbon fields. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
US military vehicle pass by sheep grazing and drinking from a stream polluted by an oil spill near the village of Sukayriyah, in the countryside south of Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on July 19, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP
US military vehicle pass by sheep grazing and drinking from a stream polluted by an oil spill near the village of Sukayriyah, in the countryside south of Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on July 19, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP