South Sudanese rebels allied to former vice president Riek Machar claimed Friday to have seized control of a major oilfield in Unity state.

"Our forces from Division 4 took full control of the whole Unity oilfields in the oil-producing Lich (Unity) state," rebel spokesman James Gatdet Dak said in a statement.

"This is after defeating government forces over the control of the oilfields, north of the state capital, Bentiu," Gatdet said in the statement.

Gatdet said the rebels' next targets are the Adar and Palouch oilfields in Upper Nile state, which he said were the only two oilfields that are still operational in South Sudan. He said the rebels are targeting oilfields in order "to deny Salva Kiir’s regime from using the oil revenues to finance and perpetuate the war."

The claim that Unity oilfield was under rebel control came just days before peace talks are set to resume between the government and armed opposition.