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Damascus says US smuggling Syria’s oil, selling it to Turkey, other countries

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The photo, taken on February 10, 2020, shows a view of a pumpjack operating at an oil well amidst a snow-covered field in the northeastern Syrian town of Malikiyah at the border with Turkey. (By AFP)

Syria has condemned the United States for ‘selling’ the Syrian oil to Turkey and other countries.

Syrian Internal Trade and Consumer Protection Minister Atef Naddaf gave an interview to Russia 24 TV channel on Saturday, Sputnik news agency reported. “Our enemy, the United States, they sell it [oil] to Turkey and so forth,” he said.

The minister added that in other oil-rich areas of the Arab country “there is completely destroyed infrastructure, there are destroyed railways, all power stations are destroyed.”

“We do not have electricity, and where there is no electricity there is no local [oil] production.”

Naddaf also touched upon the issue of sanctions against Syria. All transactions, he said, remain banned.

Before the war, Syria produced about 380,000 barrels of oil per day. Its production is estimated to have declined to just 40,000 barrels per day (bpd), according to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) working paper in 2016.

Since 2014, the United States has deployed thousands of its troops to Syria without the consent of Damascus or a UN Security Council mandate in a declared aim of crushing the Daesh Takfiri terrorists. However, long after the total defeat of the terror outfit, the American troops are still in the country.

On October 28, 2019, Donald Trump, the US president, said American troops would remain in Syria to “secure” oil reserves and even put up “a hell of a fight” against any force that tried to take them.

The following day, Defense Secretary Mark Esper threatened that American forces deployed around Syrian oil fields would use “military force” against any party that may seek to challenge Washington’s control of those sites, even if it is Syrian government forces or their Russian allies.

In the same month, Russia, Syria’s close ally in its fight against terror, lambasted Washington’s stance regarding the Syrian oilfields, condemning it as “state-sponsored banditry.”

The Russian Defense Ministry said the US was stationing its troops in northeastern Syria to pave the way for smugglers to pillage Syrian resources.

Furthermore, the ministry published aerial images which it said showed crude oil being smuggled out of Syria under the strong protection of US forces.

“The space intelligence images showed that oil was actively extracted and massively exported for processing outside Syria, under the reliable protection of US troops, before and after the defeat of the Daesh terrorists,” said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov on October 26.

The convoys were guarded by private US military companies and special operations forces, he added.

Given that the cost of one barrel of oil smuggled from Syria is $38, the monthly revenue of that “private business” exceeds $30 million, Konashenkov further said at the time.

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