A neglected aspect of media coverage of the Turkish-backed 'Peace Spring' operations against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has been the impact of the operations on areas outside SDF control. In particular, the rebel-held northwest of Syria (including greater Idlib and its environs) has seen an increase in fuel prices by around 40%.
This rise in fuel prices (compounded also by the rise in demand associated with the approach of winter) has impacted living conditions and services provision in the northwest. For instance, electricity prices (tied to the cost of mazout, a heavy fuel used for generators) have gone up. The consequences are higher fees per ampere of electricity and/or reduction in the total number of hours of electricity supplied per day from generators, whatever measures might have been taken to reduce the impacts of higher prices on the operation of services facilities.
Indeed, while there has been much talk of how SDF areas supply fuels to Syrian government-held areas, it is often forgotten that those areas also supply fuels to the rebel-held northwest.
In this guest-post report for my site, Abu Amin al-Shami, who runs the news site Oilnewsnew2019 on Telegram and resides in rebel-held west Aleppo countryside, writes on the impact of the 'Peace Spring' operations on fuel prices. Note that this article by Abu Amin al-Shami was written on 5 November 2019 CE.
'Situation of fuels in the north of Syria in the shade of the ongoing war there.
In a discussion with the media colleague Abu Amin al-Shami director of the Oilnewsnow agency concerned with media on the fuels in the north of Syria:
The Peace Spring operations has placed a burden on the living and services situation for the people of the north of Syria far removed from the military situation as the areas of the Syrian opposition have witnessed an increase in the prices of fuels after the Turkish Peace Spring operation began against the northeast of Syria. That is due to the cutting of the main road connecting between the northeast of Syria (the areas of the crude oil fields) and the areas of the opposition in the west of the country in more than one town and it did not take long before the route came to a standstill completely after the Syrian regime and Russian forces entered the town of Manbij and its environs.
And all of the markets of the fuels have witnessed consecutive and rapid increases with the beginning of the entry of the winter season and the rise in demand for the fuels in the shade of absence of potential alternatives for fuels or renewable power in the north as the mazout substance is considered a major artery for the liberated areas entirely and the refining operation for crude oil that occurs in the operation areas (Tarhin and Ma'arat al-Na'asan) creates job opportunities and acceptable income for a big contingent of society.
As for the impact of the rise of prices of fuels, it has been clear:
In an event that resembles what happened during the Olive Branch battle in Afrin at the beginning of 2018 CE, when the price of the barrel was recorded at around 100,000 Syrian pounds, but this time areas like Azaz have witnessed demonstrations and protests after a rise in the prices of electricity because of the rise of prices of fuels. As for the province of Idlib, it has also witnessed notable rises in the prices but as there is a company that receives the portfolio of fuels (the Watad company), it has currently distributed the fuels to the water and electricity stations and ovens at a cost price to avoid the increases and occurrence of harm in the work of the services facilities and in an organized manner as the pressure on these sectors has been reduced.
And the political and military news continues to cast its shadow on the situation of the fuels around a month after the launch of the Peace Spring operation.
And there is news informing of the beginning of the return of pumping of crude from the oil fields of northeast Syria to the areas of the Syrian opposition by next week after an international and regional understanding. And the Syrian citizen continues to pay the receipt of any military work from any side and is the one who has tasted the woes of war and displacement and dispersal.'
(Update 6 November 2019 CE): As a clarification note, the Watad company mentioned in the piece is affiliated with the Salvation Government, according to Abu Amin al-Shami. Note the Salvation Government is backed by Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham.