The US’s pillaging of eastern Syria appears to be continuing unabated, with the Syrian Arab News Agency reporting Sunday that over 45 vehicles loaded with wheat and oil have left the Rmelan area in northeastern Hasakah province heading for the unofficial al-Waleed border crossing with Iraq.
SANA says local sources from al-Swaidiyeh village told the news agency that the convoy of vehicles included 45 truck and tanker vehicles. At the same time, the sources said, a separate convoy of 27 vehicles loaded up with supplies and equipment came through the same crossing and made their way to Rmelan to support the US forces stationed there.
The news comes less than 24 hours after a separate incident, during which 37 tankers carrying oil illegally pumped from the Syrian region of Jazira and several trucks and refrigerators carrying unknown cargoes made their way for the al-Waleed crossing. In that instance, SANA’s sources said multiple tankers were fitted with large covered boxes, and that the convoy was accompanied by machine gun-armed support vehicles said to belong to the Syrian Democratic Forces – the US-allied, predominantly Kurdish militia which enjoys de facto control over much of eastern Syria.
Teetering on the brink of collapse in the mid-2010s as a result of a foreign-backed civil conflict, Damascus has, with the military and advisory assistance from Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia, managed to beat back and eliminate tens of thousands of jihadists and rebels operating across the country. Reconstruction efforts have been complicated, however, by the US and SDF occupation of wide swathes of territories in Syria’s east from 2017 onwards.
Washington has used its control of these areas in combination with crushing sanctions to keep Damascus crippled and to prevent the war-torn from rebuilding, and Syrian media report on a weekly and sometimes daily basis on the smuggling of dozens of trucks filled with oil and grains out of the country, as military equipment and supplies are brought back in. In March, Syrian oil minister Bassam Touma estimated that as much as 90 percent of Syria’s oil resources are under the control of the US and its allies.
Before the Syrian conflict began in 2011, the Middle Eastern nation enjoyed both food and energy self-sufficiency. Today, amid the US pressure, Syria is forced to depend on emergency food and oil aid from its Russian and Iranian partners. On top of that, Iranian oil deliveries reportedly carry the extra burden of being constantly harried by Israeli sabotage attacks at sea.
While President Donald Trump openly boasted about “taking” and “keeping” Syria’s oil, to the horror of US mainstream media fearing that his comments could open the US up to charges of pillaging under international law, Biden administration officials have sought to deflect on the occupation of Syria, and have denied, for example, that US troops are directly involved in the guarding of occupied oil wells. Instead, they have said, US troops are in the country to prevent the reemergence of Daesh (ISIS)* jihadists, a group which Damascus has regularly accused Washington of supporting. In 2019, President Assad offered an unexpected bit of Trump for at least being “transparent” when it comes to Washington’s malevolent intentions toward his country.
* A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.