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US Military Concentrates Equipment at Oil Fields in Northeastern Syria

US forces mustered dozens of military vehicles near oil fields in the Rumeilan region of Al-Hasakah province in Syria’s northeast, Syrian state television reported on Thursday.

The equipment was transferred from the US positions in the north of Raqqa province and west of Al-Hasakah province, the media said.

Earlier this month it was reported that a US military convoy consisting of 22 military vehicles and two trucks crossed the Syrian-Iraqi border and positioned itself near several oil deposits in northeastern Syria.

About 90 percent of Syrian oil reserves are concentrated to the east of the Euphrates River, the region that was previously a stronghold and main source of income for Daesh* and is now mainly controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces.

US President Donald Trump himself has confirmed several times that his country main intention in Syria is to retain control over the oil fields in its northeast. “We have our troops out of there, and we will be bringing a lot of them back home, but again we are keeping the oil,” Trump said at the beginning of his meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on 13 November.

Damascus in its turn has voiced protests against American military contingent’s presence in the country and US’ plans to secure Syrian oil. On 15 November, President Bashar al-Assad said that Damascus will lodge a complaint with the United Nations on Washington’s aim to control Syrian oil fields. “However, you and I, and many others in the world know that there is no United Nations because there is no international law; and so, all complaints lodged at the United Nations remain in drawers,” the Syrian president told journalists.

Meanwhile, US Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey in the latest development stated that Washington is not doing anything illegal by securing oil fields in Syria.

“I have every belief that it is legal under international law,” Jeffrey said responding to whether he considers US seizing the oil in the Arab republic legal under international law. “We are doing nothing illegal, the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] is continuing to work and control the fields as in the past, we will facilitate that work as part of our overall strategy towards Syria.”

The White House announced in early October that US troops would withdraw from northern Syria, where they were supporting the mainly-Kurdish fighters. This decision paved the way for Turkey’s operation targeting the Kurdish militia, which it believes to be linked to extremist groups, and Daesh. However, the United States has since stressed it wants to retain control of oil fields in northern Syria.