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    In this Friday, April 12, 2013 photo, members of the Lebanese pro-Syrian Popular Committees stand guard at the Lebanon-Syria border, near the northeastern Lebanese town of al-Qasr, Lebanon. Masked men in camouflage toting Kalashnikov rifles fan out through a dusty olive orchard.

    Syria’s Olive Warriors Fighting Back Against War to Boost Oil Sales

    © AP Photo / Bilal Hussein
    Middle East
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    Despite a four-year long civil war and ongoing conflict erupting around them, it seems Syria's embattled oil olive producers are showing signs of a fightback, with the country set to become the world's fourth largest olive oil producer in 2015, according to the International Olive Council (IOC).

    The Madrid-based IOC predicted that following the release of crop estimates from Syrian authorities,  215,000 tonnes of olive oil would be produced in the country over the next 12 months.

    Due to favorable growing conditions and the devastating impact that war had on the industry last year, the IOC said that Syria's predicted olive oil production increase "stands out" as it is 105 percent higher than the return in 2014.

    Syria's predicted output of 215,000 tonnes sees it rank fourth in terms of global olive oil production estimates for 2015-2016, behind Spain (1.2 million tones), Italy (350,000) and Greece (320,000), and ahead of other olive oil producing countries such as Turkey, Tunisia and Morocco.

    However, despite the positive predictions, authorities noted that Syria's olive oil producers faced numerous obstacles to turn their harvests into a sellable product.

    With fighting still raging between various government forces and rebels groups in Syria, many areas aren't accessible for olive workers.

    To complicate matters further, many olive oil producers in Syria noted that militia groups were known to hijack trucks transporting their products, while drivers were forced to pay bribes when traveling through areas controlled by different groups.

    And while weather conditions have allowed for a bumper season of olive growth, there are also concerns that the conflict in Syria will cause significant damage to some of the country's olive groves, with centuries-old olive trees being cut down and used for firewood.

    However, despite the dangers of war continuing in Syria, officials believe there is reason for the country's 'olive warriors' to be optimistic about the future — Syria's oil is expected to make up seven percent of the world's total production.

    This fight back has been seen as a sign of the resilience of the Syrian people after four long years of bloody war and tragedy.

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    Tags:
    Middle East, producers, olive groves, militants, rebels, farmers, conflict, war, economy, olive oil, The Syrian war, Syria
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