BEIRUT, Lebanon, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Syrian rebels, some of which are aligned with al-Qaida, may be financing their rebel campaign through the sale of oil, an Emirati oil executive said.
Syria relies on oil and natural gas revenue to help pay off its government debt. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says Syria's energy sector is in decline because of war and Western economic sanctions.
A report published Tuesday by the New York Times, citing unnamed U.S. counter-terrorism officials, says much of Syria's oil and natural gas resources are in the hands of the Islamic States of Iraq and Syria, a group affiliated with al-Qaida. The report said ISIS is selling petroleum products to the Syrian government.
"Even sold at discounted prices, this oil could be generating significant revenue for rebels to arm themselves," Badr Jafar, chairman of Emirati energy company Crescent Petroleum, was quoted in the report as saying.
The Times reports the Syrian government may be coordinating with some rebel groups to weaken others.
"Syria is an oil country and has resources, but in the past they were all stolen by the regime," anti-government activist Abu Nizar told the Times. "Now they are being stolen by those who are profiting from the revolution."