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US troops 'secure' northeast Syria oil, as contamination from it imperils lives

Dilapidated pipelines and oil waste coat polluted rivers and streams in Kurdish-run northeast Syria.
HOLE, SYRIA - NOVEMBER 09:  November 9, 2015 in Hassica, Rojava, Syria.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
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The Kurds of northeast Syria shot to global renown for their valiance against the Islamic State (IS). But today, they face a scourge that is potentially even more devastating, putting the lives of millions of local residents at risk: oil pollution.

Across the Kurdish-administered region, which is home to some 4 million people and sits on most of Syria’s contested oil, crude oil leaking from dilapidated pipelines and carcinogenic oil waste are contaminating rivers and streams. When the rivers flood, as they did most recently in April, they spread their poison over agricultural crops, just as thousands of rudimentary refineries belch their own toxic fumes into the air.

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