Diesel tanks entering Atme village in Idlib countryside after passing Efrin area coming from east Syria
Armed opposition-controlled areas in Aleppo western countryside and Idlib province witnessed a fuel crisis after Olive Branch operation started in Efrin area in north Aleppo, fuel prices reached 50% higher while gas supplies reached more than 200% higher.
After Olive Branch groups captured Efrin city, it opened the road for diesel tanks to cross from Azaz city under rebels group in Aleppo northern countryside to Atme area in Idlib northern countryside after hundreds of fuel tanks were blocked in Azaz went through this road.
NSO reporter in Aleppo western countryside said around 700 fuel tanks each contains around 100-130 barrels were stopped in Arshaf, Soran Azaz, Kafra and Azaz city since Olive Branch operation started because they couldn’t cross Efrin area due to battles but on Monday morning the trucks in Kafra and Soran Azaz were allowed to move to Idlib.
According to what a truck driver told our reporter that trucks started from Azaz city and entered Efrin city then Jenderis area to Deir Ballot village and reach Atme town in north Idlib, according to local activists around 400 trucks and fuel tanks entered Atme and 250 already moved to Idlib countryside while others are waiting to enter the area, trucks headed to Sarmada and Maratmesrin towns where traders bought enough supplies for their areas.
Meanwhile, local activists said Hayyet Tahrir al-Sham started collecting fees on Diesel trucks coming from Azaz and entered Idlib countryside through its checkpoints in Atme area, it imposed around 100$ fee on a trader for 3 fuel trucks according to a photo of “Al-Jazire Company for petroleum and transit” recipe said it was issued by HTS.
A local trader told NSO reporter that diesel barrel price fell to half for 70k SYP around 150 $ while it was 120K SYP around 250$.
Activists said the prices could fall more and reach old rates before Efrin countryside when the 1 barrel was sold for 45k SYP around 90$, adding that these prices only for diesel coming from “Syrian Democratic Forces SDF” areas while gasoline which comes from Assad-regime held areas still sold for 120k SYP while gas prices still the same because it doesn’t pass this road.
NSO team observed the changes in fuel markets before Efrin battles and during it in addition to the latest change after FSA captured the city and reopened the road.
*Fuel crisis started in Idlib countryside after military operation started
Before the start of Olive Branch operation, fuel supplies for opposition-held areas in Idlib province and Aleppo western countryside used to come via fuel tanks from Azaz city in north Aleppo to PYD-held Efrin for fees imposed by PYD in addition to amounts of fuel from regime-held area in north Hama through Abu Dali crossing then Mourek which was opened lately.
In Idlib province, 1 barrel of diesel reached more than 120k SYP around 250$ while it was between 45-55k SYP around 100$ before Olive Branch operation started, the price for diesel differ according to its quality, the cooking gas reached 17500SYP for one cylinder after it was 7000 SYP only, this high crisis finished the fuel stored by traders and civilians or infrastructures like bakeries, hospitals and medical facilities who don’t have a huge storage capacity due to no previous plans to avoid this crisis.
The head of the service Office in Idlib Province Council Mohamad al-Aref told NSO that PYD-led “Self-Autonomous Administration” was allowing fuel tanks to pass its held areas to Idlib and imposed fees on trucks but when the Olive Branch operation started it stopped the trucks from oil fields in eastern Syria.
Al-Aref said in addition to that, the high number of displaced civilians who came to Idlib province from Hama eastern countryside and Idlib eastern and southern countryside due to Assad regime advance increased the demand for fuel especially this happened during winter when civilians needed heating.
*Fees were imposed by trucks passing both ways
Fuel tanks coming from PYD-held areas to Idlib passed by areas under different armed groups control, oil extracted from oil fields controlled by PYD in eastern Syria and fuel pass by its areas to reach Aleppo northern countryside under “Euphrates Shield” control to PYD-held Efrin then Idlib province under opposition control.
Because many sides controlled the routes for fuel tanks it imposed new fees on it which increased the prices, according to Abu Khalil who is a fuel tank driver who told NSO that transferring fuel from oil fields to Idlib started when ISIS captured the oil fields and lasted after SDF and Assad regime kicked ISIS out.
Abu Khalil added that when ISIS used to control the fields the oil refining process happened in refineries in Raqqa and Deir Ezzor provinces in addition to al-Saghir, al-Karame and al-Mansoura villages and ISIS also banned selling oil without refining it, after ISIS was kicked out by SDF, they were transporting the crude oil because majority of refineries stopped which caused many primitive refineries in areas like Telmenas and Masaran and other areas in Idlib province.
Abu Khalil said that 1 barrel of crude oil was sold for 22k SYP after reaching Azaz city in Aleppo northern countryside while it was sold for 30-40k SYP after it reached Idlib according to the demand in Idlib and the road and said these prices are due to fees imposed by different armed sides controlling the routes.
According to Abu Khalil the trucks left Idlib empty and reach Daaret Izza in Aleppo western countryside where drivers have to pay 1000 SYP around 2 $ for each barrel to Zinki group checkpoint, then the trucks continue to Efrin through al-Ghazawye point then al-Basoute to Efrin to Kaferjanne then Azaz city in Aleppo northern countryside without paying extra money for passing.
After trucks reached Azaz it go back to Idlib with fuel and drivers pay 500SYP around 1 $ for each barrel to Ahrar al-Sham checkpoint before entering Efrin, then according to Abu Khalil they pay YPG checkpoint 5000 SYP around 10$ for each barrel in addition to another 10k SYP for each truck for passing YPG area, so each driver paid an extra 1000 SYP for each barrel transferred to Idlib including all fees.
And because north Syria has no oil fields, the locals have to get the fuel from this route despite the fees imposed on it but when Olive Branch operation started the routes were closed while regime forces banned cooking gas to opposition-held areas at the same time.
Despite “Salvation Government”-affiliated Watad Company bought fuel and gas from Turkey but the fuel crisis in Idlib didn’t end because the supplies didn’t meet the demands at all.
After the reopening of Efrin road, traders expecting that fuel and diesel prices will be lower while gasoline and gas will stay high because it comes from the regime which banned it lately.