BEIRUT - Islamist rebels are clashing with tribesmen in eastern Syria as struggles over the region's oil facilities break out in the power vacuum left by civil war, activists said on Saturday.
One dispute over a stolen oil truck in the town of Masrib in the province of Deir Zor, which borders Iraq, set off a battle between tribesmen and fighters from the Nusra Front, an al-Qaida linked rebel group, which left 37 killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The fighting, which started in late March and lasted 10 days, was part of a new pattern of conflict between tribal groups and the Nusra Front, said a report from the Observatory, a British-based group which opposes Syria's government and draws information from a network of activists in the country.
As the civil war between President Bashar Assad's forces and different rebel groups enters its third year, secondary conflicts are emerging over influence and resources such as oil. More than 70,000 people have been killed in Syria's conflict so far, according to the United Nations.