00:03 GMT31 October 2020
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    The US continues to maintain a sizeable military presence in northeastern Syria despite repeated promises by President Donald Trump to pull troops out of the country. Last month, US forces attacked a Syrian Army position in the region, sparking mass protests by local residents, and prompting the Pentagon to reinforce its positions.

    US forces have brought a convoy consisting of 58 vehicles into Syria’s al-Hasakah province from Iraq through the al-Waleed border crossing point, SANA has reported, citing civilian sources in the nearby al-Yaarubiyah countryside.

    The vehicles reportedly included armoured military vehicles, trucks carrying cement plates, and other equipment, with the convoy making its way for the city of Qamishli, the site of last month’s deadly clash between US and Syrian forces, which left one Syrian soldier dead and two others injured.

    US forces in Syria have not commented on the convoy, its movements or purpose. In recent days, local sources have reported an uptick in activity along the Syrian-Iraqi border, including the arrival of a separate 65 vehicle convoy from Iraq, among them military vehicles on flatbeds, refrigerator and tanker trucks, and armoured vehicle escorts. SANA has also reported a convoy of dozens of damaged military and civilian vehicles being transferred into Iraq.

    The al-Waleed border point remains outside the control of the Syrian government, which classifies it as an “illegal” crossing point because of its lack of jurisdiction.

    The US beefed up its military presence in Syria earlier this month, with Xinhua reporting the movement of 50 military vehicles into Syria on September 4. Before that, regional media reported that the US had sent over 60 trucks and armoured vehicles to al-Hasakah, again using the al-Waleed crossing point.

    Syrian authorities have repeatedly called on US forces to leave the country, stressing their presence is illegal under international law, and accusing them and their Kurdish allies of stealing the country’s resources in the oil-rich regions of Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor, where most US troops are stationed. The Trump administration has rejected Damascus’s demands, with President Trump himself repeatedly promising to “keep” Syria’s oil, despite concerns from legal experts that this would violate international laws against plundering.

    This week, Syrian President Bashar Assad blasted the Trump administration for acting like a “terrorist group” and a “rogue state” after Trump claimed that he once “had a shot” at assassinating Assad but didn’t because of resistance from his former Secretary of Defence, James Mattis.

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