Moscow released photos it claims show the real reason the US wants to keep troops in eastern Syria: to protect the illegal oil trade and reap large profits.
On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry published aerial images of what it said is clear proof of Syrian crude oil being massively smuggled outside of the country “under the strong protection of the US.”
The black and white images are said to show scores of tanker trucks, supposedly loaded with crude oil, scattered in the oil-rich northeastern province of Deir ez-Zor. Dozens of trucks were spotted near the Daman oil-gathering facility, 42km east of the city of Deir ez-Zor, as well as near Mayadin.
A column of 22 fuel trucks was also located in the neighboring Al-Hasakah Province. The images were dated August and September this year.
The trucks taking part in the smuggling operations are being protected by “US troops and the personnel of the US private military companies,” Defense Ministry spokesperson Major General Igor Konashenkov said.
Whenever a convoy gets attacked, the US special forces and military jets are being called in to defend it.
US President Donald Trump declared that US troops would be pulling out of Syria earlier this month. Pentagon chief Mark Esper, however, later clarified that some soldiers would be deployed to Deir ez-Zor to secure the oil fields from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) militants.
Konashenkov accused the US of trying to keep its foothold in the region, continuing to exploit Syrian resources.
What Washington is doing right now is seizing and holding the oilfields in eastern Syria under its armed control, which is tantamount to international state-sponsored banditry.
The major general further claimed that the revenue from the illegal oil trade goes through the brokerage companies and ultimately lands in the hands of the “American private military contractors and the US security agencies.”
This is the real reason the Pentagon wants to “protect the oilfields in Syria from the mythical ‘ISIS secret cells’ forever,” Konashenkov said.
Tensions in northern Syrian escalated earlier this month after Turkey launched an offensive against Kurdish forces it considers terrorists. Ankara wanted to create a 30-mile safe zone along its border with Syria, but later halted its campaign to allow the US to facilitate the withdrawal of the Kurds.
Meanwhile, Syrian government troops and Russian military police entered the cities of Manbij and Raqqa shortly after the US soldiers left. Turkey and Russia further agreed on joint patrols along the Syrian-Turkish border.