Syrian Media Reports US Theft of Additional Oil Supplies, Relocation of Military Equipment to Iraq
15:25 GMT 18.01.2022 (Updated: 15:26 GMT 18.01.2022)
© AP Photo / Baderkhan AhmadU.S. military convoy drives near the town of Qamishli, north Syria, Saturday, Oct. 26. 2019
© AP Photo / Baderkhan Ahmad
Large swathes of oil and food-rich northeast Syria are occupied by US forces and their Syrian Kurdish allies. Their presence has been little reported on in US media over the past year, with the Biden White House insisting the troops are there to fight Daesh (ISIS).* Donald Trump, by contrast, openly said US forces were in Syria “only for the oil.”
A convoy of 111 vehicles, including 60 trucks loaded with military equipment and dozens of tankers carrying stolen oil, have left Syria and crossed into Iraq, the Syrian Arab News Agency has reported, citing local sources in the Al-Hasakah countryside.
Sources told the outlet that the convoy included a six-vehicle armoured vehicle escort, and that it left Syria for Iraq through the Al Waleed border crossing – which Damascus considers an illegal border point because it remains outside the Syrian government’s control.
The convoy’s journey is at least the second since the new year. On 3rd January, 128 vehicles, among them 60 refrigerated trucks and oil tankers and 60 carrying military equipment, were spotted leaving Syria on route to the Al Waleed crossing flanked by eight escorts.
The Pentagon has not commented on the reports, and its unclear at this stage whether the withdrawal of military equipment is a conscious and permanent policy measure, or merely a temporary redeployment for refit and repair.
Last week, sources told Turkish media about US forces being moved in the opposite direction, reporting that a convoy of 30 trucks carrying armoured vehicles, tanks, bulldozers and ammunition had been sent from Iraq to Syria to beef up the US presence near al-Omar – one of Syria’s largest oil fields. That convoy was said to have been escorted by Kurdish militia and a pair of US helicopter gunships on route.
The US presence in northeast Syria – which includes up to 90 percent of the country’s oil and much of its wheat-producing regions, has been made tenuous by repeated rocket and mortar attacks on troops’ positions. These attacks have been compounded by efforts by the Syrian Army and local civilians to make moving around on the ground more difficult, with locals reporting dozens of encounters with the Americans on local routes in which the occupying forces are forced to turn around and head back in the direction they came from, or find alternate routes to their destination.
17 December 2021, 13:51 GMT
The United States currently has at least 900 troops operating in Syria, although the Pentagon and the State Department has previously been accused of covering up the true size of the US military footprint from senior officials – including former president Donald Trump during his tenure.
Trump was more open about the purpose of the US deployment in the country than his successor, Joe Biden, with the Democrat insisting that the US presence is aimed at preventing a resurgence of Daesh. Trump – to the horror of officials in Washington and the US mainstream media, repeatedly and openly bragged about “taking” Syria’s oil. “I like oil, we’re keeping the oil,” Trump said in one interview with reporters. “We’re keeping the oil, we have the oil, the oil is secure, we left troops behind only for the oil,” he said in another.
Syrian President Bashar Assad complemented Trump over his honesty, saying in a 2019 interview that he considered him the “best American president, not because his policies are good, but because he’s the most transparent president. All American presidents perpetrate all kinds of political atrocities and crimes and yet still win the Nobel Peace Prize and project themselves as defenders of human rights and noble and unique American values, or Western values in general. The reality is that they are a group of criminals who represent the interests of American lobbies, i.e. the large oil and arms companies, and others. Trump talks transparently, saying that what we want is oil…What more do we need than a transparent opponent?”
* A terrorist group outlawed across most of the world.