(Photo Credit: AFP)
On 25 March, the US army smuggled at least 80 fuel tankers loaded with hundreds of tons of stolen Syrian oil from the country’s resource-rich Jazira region to their bases in Iraq.
The tanker trucks were taken out of Syria as part of a 148-vehicle convoy that crossed the illegal Al-Walid border crossing early on Saturday, according to local sources that spoke with SANA.
Other vehicles in the US convoy included refrigerated trucks and armored vehicles, the sources say.
Washington’s latest oil theft operation took place just hours after their occupation bases at Conoco and Al-Omar oilfields in northeast Syria were pummeled by missile and drone strikes in retaliation for a US airstrike earlier on Friday in Deir Ezzor governorate that left several Syrians dead.
According to field sources that spoke with Al Mayadeen, the occupation base at Conoco field was hit with over 15 missiles. Speaking with Al Jazeera TV, a US official said one of the bases was hit by “eight rockets.”
US media quoted the Pentagon as saying the attacks left several casualties. However, no further details were provided.
No group has taken responsibility for the daring attack, which marked the third successful armed operation against US troops in Syria within 24 hours.
Commenting on Friday’s airstrikes — launched from the Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar — US President Joe Biden said his country is prepared to “act forcefully to protect our people,” adding that the US “does not seek conflict with Iran.”
Saturday’s oil theft operation marked the third time US troops have plundered Syria’s resources since the country was hit by a devastating earthquake on 6 February.
Washington maintains approximately 900 troops in Syria, primarily split between the Al-Tanf base and the country’s northeastern region. Their occupation is illegal under international law as it was carried out without government approval.
Though US troops – accompanied by fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – initially occupied large swathes of Syria under the pretext of fighting ISIS, the official rationale for the occupation changed once ISIS was largely defeated.
In infamous comments made in 2019, former US President Donald Trump said: “We’re keeping [Syria’s] oil. We have the oil. The oil is secure. We left troops behind only for the oil.”
According to an investigation by The Cradle, dozens of tankers pass through illegal crossings between Iraq and Syria every week in convoys accompanied by US warplanes or helicopters.
Shepherds in the region corroborate these claims, saying that the Syrian oil is transported to the Al-Harir military site in Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR), a region known as a “hub” for western and Israeli spy agencies.
In August of last year, the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that the losses incurred by the country’s oil and gas sector as a result of US actions amounted to $107 billion since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011.