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US military tankers smuggle crude oil from Syria’s Hasakah to Iraq again

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)
In this file picture, a US military convoy patrols near the Rumaylan oil fields in Syria's northeastern Hasakah province on September 17, 2020. (By AFP)

As part of Washington’s bid to further plunder energy resources in war-ravaged Syria, the US military has reportedly used hundreds of tanker trucks to smuggle crude oil from the Jazira region in the country’s northeastern province of Hasakah to western Iraq.

Local sources in the town of al-Swaidah, requesting not to be named, told Syria’s official news agency SANA that a convoy of 300 tankers rumbled through al-Mahmoudiya border crossing on Tuesday, and headed toward the Iraqi territory after being filled with crude oil.

Syrian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Bassam Tomeh, told state-run and Arabic-language al-Ikhbariyah Syria television news network on March 18 that the US and its allied Takfiri terrorist groups are looting oil reserves in the war-stricken Arab country, revealing that Washington controls 90 percent of crude reserves in oil-rich northeastern Syria.

“Americans and their allies are targeting the Syrian oil wealth and its tankers just like pirates,” the Syrian oil minister said.

He noted that the cost of direct and indirect damage to the Syrian oil sector stands at more than $92 billion.

“What has happened all through Syria war has not happened in any country, in terms of preventing us from tapping our wealth resources and at the same time stopping basic commodities from reaching our country,” Tomeh said.

US forces to remain in Syria to purportedly prevent Daesh resurgence

Meanwhile, a number of US military officials have asserted that American forces will remain in northeastern Syria indefinitely in order to fight remnants of Daesh Takfiri terrorist group and support allied militants affiliated with the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Lieutenant General Paul Calvert, Commander of the US-led and anti-Daesh Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), said “American forces will not return home anytime soon."

He added, “ISIS (another acronym for Daesh) is still able to establish training camps and infrastructure in the Badia desert,” which is the area US troops are apparently not present and Daesh terrorists can still carry out occasional high-level attacks.

He added, “I think ISIS’s ability to emerge is very low at the moment, but the potential is always there, because there is not much pressure being put on them in the Badia desert, and the level of complexity in Syria is enormous, and it is probably one of the most complex environments I have seen in the 33 years I have been serving.”

Back on February 20, Ghassan Halim Khalil, governor of Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah, told the Lebanese Arabic-language al-Akhbar daily newspaper that SDF militants steal 140,000 barrels of crude oil on a daily basis from oil fields in the region.

He added that Syrian oil is being plundered by the extremists in various ways, all with the participation and support of American forces deployed to the region.

Khalil stressed that precise intelligence collected and received show that US-backed militants use tanker trucks from Taramish area in the vicinity of Tigris and in al-Malikiyah town to smuggle the Syrian oil to neighboring Iraq.

He further noted that many tanker trucks pass through the illegal al-Mahmoudiyah crossing into Iraq every day, adding that the SDF militants also regularly send mounts of stolen oil to their controlled areas in Syria.

Several Turkish-backed militants killed, wounded in car bomb attack  

Also on Tuesday, a number of Turkish-backed militants were killed and wounded when a car bomb blast struck near their checkpoint in the northeastern Syrian city of Ras al-Ayn.

SANA, citing local sources, reported that the force of the explosion damaged several nearby buildings.

The Turkish government has been supporting Takfiri militants since they were deployed to northeastern Syria in October 2019, when the Turkish military launched a cross-border invasion in a declared attempt to push militants of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) away from border areas. 

Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.

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