40-Truck US Convoy Loaded With Stolen Wheat Smuggled Out of Syria: Report
15:18 GMT 19.06.2022 (Updated: 15:20 GMT 19.06.2022)
© Photo : Twitter / @Ilias90sPurported image of smuggling of wheat and barley out of Syria by US-allied forces. File photo
© Photo : Twitter / @Ilias90s
Syrian media regularly report on the movements of US military convoys into and out of the country, saying Washington brings supplies and military equipment in, and carries foodstuffs and crude oil out.
US forces and Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces militia units snuck a 40-truck convoy of vehicles loaded with Syrian wheat supplies out of the country via the al-Waleed border crossing point between Syria and Iraq northeast of al-Hasakah city, the Syrian Arab News Agency has reported, citing local sources.
The sources further indicated that US forces had separately taken a convoy containing 36 defective military vehicles from the town of Tel Hamees in northeastern al-Hasakah province to Iraq using the same crossing.
The wheat supplies were said to have been pilfered from Syrian Jazira, part of the Fertile Crescent.
SANA’s sources did not specify what kinds of trucks were involved, or whether the 40-truck figure included armed escorts, which typically accompany haulers during oil and food smuggling operations. In the United States, a single tractor trailer-worth of wheat can be used to make 42,000 loaves of bread worth over $100,000.
Syria has repeatedly accused the US of waging an economic war against it through control of the country’s strategic northeastern territories, where up to 90 percent of the country’s oil and its best agricultural lands are situated. Deprived of these territories, and facing crushing US and European sanctions on everything from banking to medicine, Damascus has been forced to rely on Russian and Iranian assistance for ensuring its food and energy security while rebuilding from the brutal foreign-backed war that began in 2012.
Last year, Syrian Minister of Petroleum Bassam Tomeh estimated that US oil smuggling activities had caused some $92 billion in damages to Syria’s oil sector – a big chunk of the $200-400 billion President Bashar Assad has said would be necessary for reconstruction. Before the war, the Middle Eastern nation enjoyed self-sufficiency in both energy and food.
The US is estimated to maintain an occupation force of about 900 troops in Syria, with these forces reportedly guarding oil and gas fields, military bases and major strategic infrastructure. Their presence is meant to serve as a kind of ‘insurance policy’ for its SDF allies, and a warning to the Syrian government and Turkish-backed militias that any attacks will be met with a devastating response.
Syrian authorities have nonetheless expressed confidence that all of the territories outside Damascus’s control will eventually be liberated, and have urged the Kurds, who have established de-facto self-governing status in the government’s absence, to realize that America will eventually abandon them. Publicly, the Biden administration has expressed no intention of withdrawing from Syria, and the country is rarely mentioned by US officials and media.
Last week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian blasted Washington for behaving like a “pirate” in Syria and “flagrantly plunder[ing]” the nation’s resources, saying US actions were “plunging” the country “into an unprecedented humanitarian disaster.”
On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Russia had conducted a “series” of "provocative" operations against US forces in Syria this month, including an air raid on the al-Tanf garrison near the border with Iraq and Jordan targeting CIA-trained jihadists. The Russian foreign and defence ministries have not commented on the report.