16:26 GMT26 September 2020
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    Washington has maintained its deployment of troops in the Arab Republic despite having no legal grounds for it as per international law. The US has been ignoring criticism from Damascus and Moscow, which condemned both the illegal deployment and the White House's "stealing" of the country's resources.

    The Department of State came to the defence of the country's strategy in Syria, naming Washington's key priorities in the region and elaborating on the stance in regards to several related issues in an interview with Newsweek. According to the department, the US is still pursuing the elimination of the remaining Daesh* terrorists in Syria, but this is not its only goal.

    FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2019 file photo, U.S. forces patrol Syrian oil fields, in eastern Syria.President Donald Trump's decision to dispatch new U.S. forces to eastern Syria to secure oil fields is being criticized by some experts as ill-defined and ambiguous. But the residents of the area, one of the country's most remote and richest regions, hope the U.S. focus on eastern Syria would bring an economic boon and eliminate what remains of the Islamic State group
    © AP Photo / Baderkhan Ahmad
    FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2019 file photo, U.S. forces patrol Syrian oil fields, in eastern Syria.President Donald Trump's decision to dispatch new U.S. forces to eastern Syria to secure oil fields is being criticized by some experts as ill-defined and ambiguous. But the residents of the area, one of the country's most remote and richest regions, hope the U.S. focus on eastern Syria would bring an economic boon and eliminate what remains of the Islamic State group

    The White House also wants to expel all Iranian forces allegedly present in the Arab Republic, as well as militants purportedly backed by Tehran. Iran itself has insisted it only deployed military advisers to Syria, who are present there at the request of its government, unlike the US forces, which lack legal grounds for their deployment. At the same time, the Department of State said it has no problems with Russian forces, deployed at Hmeymim and Tartus, staying in Syria.

    "Russian military forces were in Syria prior to the beginning of the Syrian Conflict in 2011, and thus we do not advocate for the removal of those forces", the department's spokesperson said.

    The US also seeks to resolve the internal Syrian conflict, although it has been notably absent from the main platforms for peace talks between Damascus and the opposition militias.

    So It's Not About Oil After All? Or Is It?

    These statements by the Department of State are in contrast with how President Donald Trump has described the current primary mission of the US troops in Syria – to "keep the oil". This is what they have been doing since at least October 2019, and, judging by the reports of the Syrian and Russian military – they've also been helping to smuggle it out of the country. Damascus and Moscow condemned the US for its theft of Syria's national resources after convoys of oil transports allegedly accompanied by American military vehicles were spotted moving towards the border with Iraq.

    Oil transit vehicles gather near Tall Daman oil station in Syria, 43 km east of Deir ez-Zor
    © Photo : Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

    The Department of State, however, insists that US forces are only guarding the oilfields to prevent them from falling back into the hands of the long-defeated Daesh* terrorist group. The spokesperson claims the US does "not own, control, or manage oil resources in Syria" and assured that it is interested only in crude being utilised by the "Syrian people". The "Syrian people" that the State Department representative spoke of, are in fact a predominantly Kurdish militant group, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which controls most of the country's oil-rich east and has long been Washington's ally in the region.


    *Daesh (also known as ISIS or IS) is a terrorist organisation, banned in Russia

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    Iran, Russia, US troops, US, Syria
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