US Reportedly Calls in Reinforcements, Hunkers Down Near Syrian Oil Field Amid Spate of Attacks
10:33 GMT 09.01.2022 (Updated: 16:46 GMT 08.01.2023)
© AP Photo / Baderkhan AhmadIn 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.
© AP Photo / Baderkhan Ahmad
The US and its allies – the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces militia, maintain control over much of northeastern Syria – including up to 90 percent of the war-torn country’s oil-producing regions and much of its breadbasket.
The Pentagon has reportedly beefed up its presence near one of Syria’s largest oil fields following mortar attacks targeting a major US base in the area.
“American forces based in Iraq sent military reinforcements consisting of 30 trucks carrying armoured vehicles, tanks and bulldozers,” sources said to be familiar with the situation told Turkey’s Anadolu news agency.
The reinforcements are said to have entered northeastern Syria’s al-Hasakah province on Thursday and taken to the US garrison near the al-Omar oil field in Deir ez-Zor province.
The supplies reportedly included boxes believed to contain ammunition, including rockets, with the convoys escorted along the route by Kurdish militia and a pair of US choppers flying overhead.
A base housing US-led coalition troops in northeastern Syria was targeted by mortar fire in late December, with fresh strikes Tuesday hitting the US base near the al-Omar field. ‘Iranian-backed militias’ – the Pentagon’s term for Syrian or Iraqi militants fighting Daesh (ISIS)* and other terrorist groups with Iranian support, were blamed for Tuesday’s incident.
Following the second round of attacks, the coalition launched airstrikes in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor province, near the Iraqi border, citing the “imminent threat” of further strikes against its forces. The Pentagon justified the strikes as “self defence,” and said there was a “serious threat to innocent civilians” posed by rocket attacks on US facilities.
The US outpost near the al-Omar field has come under repeated attack in recent months. In mid-December, local sources told Sputnik that at least four distinct explosions could be heard emanating from the base, with plumes of smoke seen rising from the facility and several drones launched from inside after one such strike.
13 December 2021, 18:08 GMT
The US has at least 900 troops operating in Syria (although Pentagon and State Department officials have been accused of covering up the true numbers from the White House), with many of them stationed in or near strategic facilities in the country’s northeast, including its large oil and gas fields. Unlike the Trump administration, which openly bragged about “taking” and “keeping” Syria’s oil from its rightful owners – the Damascus government, the Biden administration has largely kept silent on US troops’ operations, claiming that American forces are in the country to guard against Daesh.
President Bashar Assad and other Syrian officials have repeatedly demanded that all US forces – and any other countries illegally deploying troops in the Arab Republic, including Turkey, withdraw their forces immediately and show respect for Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity. Damascus has vowed that it will not rest until all of the country’s territory, including the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, is back under its jurisdiction.
The US-led occupation of northeast Syria has prevented Damascus from accessing up to 90 percent of its oil resources, and deprived the country of the self-sufficiency in energy and food security –both of which it enjoyed before the war.
19 March 2021, 19:14 GMT
Syrian government forces and local residents have not taken the occupation lying down, with media regularly reporting on incidents of troops and civilians blocking off roads to convoys of US military equipment. Such efforts do not always end peacefully. In mid-2020, a Syrian military attempt to block a US convoy resulted in a firefight, leaving one Syrian soldier dead and two others wounded. The Pentagon initially blamed the Syrian side for the violence, but an internal investigation revealed late last year that a US Army platoon sergeant was facing court martial for causing the incident and attempting to cover up his role.
* A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.