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Syria says rebels set fire to three eastern oil wells

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian rebels have set three oil wells in the east of the country ablaze, causing a daily loss of nearly 5,000 barrels of oil and 52,000 cubic meters of gas, state media quoted an oil ministry official as saying on Sunday.

SANA news agency said the damage to the oil wells in Deir al-Zor province, much of which is in rebel hands, followed disputes among the fighters over "sharing out the stolen oil" from fields in areas they control.

It said Syria's Furat Petroleum Corporation was working to extinguish the three fires. A total of nine wells had been set on fire by the rebels, the agency added, without saying when the other six had been set ablaze.

Furat was not immediately able to comment on the report.

European Union sanctions imposed on Syria two years ago over President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on protests - which have since developed into armed conflict - effectively halted Syria's modest oil exports.

Assad's government has also struggled to meet domestic energy requirements after losing control of large parts of the east of the country, where most of the oil wells are located.

But despite the fighting residents say oil production has continued in some fields, with rebels trading with local authorities and allowing oil to be shipped to government-controlled areas.

(Editing by Sophie Hares)

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