Syrian regime forces at oil field Trump vowed to “secure” in Syria

US forces have been patrolling near Rmeilan oil fields in the last several days and the regime forces now appear to overlap with the same areas.

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November 6, 2019 17:05
3 minute read.
American soldiers stand near military trucks, at al-Omar oil field in Deir Al Zor

American soldiers stand near military trucks, at al-Omar oil field in Deir Al Zor. (photo credit: REUTERS/RODI SAID)

Syrian Arab Army (SAA) forces swept in to the town of Mulla Abbas and drove next to its oil wells and petroleum facilities, showing the Assad regime flag and celebrating their reconquest of eastern Syria. A cameraman from Syrian state media SANA was on hand to capture the moment.

Damascus says it sent the SAA units 60 km. from Qamishli on the border with Turkey to secure a swath of villages and provide security for local people in al-Hasakah province. “They will conduct their national tasks and create stability,” Syria said.

While the patrols are not next to oil fields the US has been seeking to secure, American soldiers have been patrolling near Rmeilan oil fields in the last several days, and the regime forces now appear to overlap in the same areas. According to SANA, the regime now has deployed forces in Deir Ghosn, Ataba, Tal al-Hasanat, Mulla Abbas, Qahtaniya, Kadrim Fawqani, Tel Jahan and Tel Kharnoub. It is part of a larger regime force that also has sent men to Tel Tamr, the scene of clashes with Turkish-backed militants. Some areas were abandoned because of fear of Turkish attacks and “terrorist organizations supported by the Turkish regime,” Syria said. Turkey has claimed there are members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in some border areas and says it needs a “safe zone” along the border. Russia and Turkey signed a deal on October 22 allowing Turkey some joint patrols in the area. Turkish-backed far-right Islamist extremist groups have attacked an area near Tel Abyad and forced 200,000, mostly Kurdish, residents to flee since October 9. Turkey has carried out airstrikes. The Syrian regime says it is trying to retake these areas to contribute to stability.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which Turkey claims are linked to the PKK, have withdrawn based on the Russia-Turkey deal. A power vacuum has thus resulted. Nature abhors a vacuum so into the vacuum has come the Syrian regime and some US patrols. The US wants the oil, says US President Donald Trump. The US will keep the oil and some profits may be given to the SDF or the US, or be part of a deal with Damascus.

The Syrian regime is proud of its conquest, and its soldiers are celebrating. They brought at least three Toyota pick-up troops with white camouflage designed apparently to blend in with the Syrian desert landscape, and one decades-old truck that looks like it was from the Soviet era. The Syrian soldiers spent time raising their flag and saluting. They took photos and set up a checkpoint. The oil fields were obviously of interest, because they included several photos of oil derricks. The Syrian regime has spread its forces out toward the city of Derik (al-Malakiya) at least 90 km. from Qamishli, although SANA says the forces only advanced 60 km. They may have been distracted by the oil and not gone all the way to Derik.

US forces patrolling for oil drove down the M4 highway all the way to Sarrin over the weekend, and then back through Qahtaniya and toward the Rmeilan oil fields on November 3 and 4. The Coalition forces say that artillery shells fell within 1 km. of the road they were driving on near Tel Tamr. This means that one relatively small area now includes Turkish forces, Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups, US forces, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, Russian patrols and Syrian regime soldiers.

The US says that its troops are positioned in a strategic area to deny ISIS access to the vital resources. “The fundamental purpose of securing those oil fields is to deny those oil fields access to ISIS in order to prevent ISIS from resurgence, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley said on October 28 alongside US Secretary of State Mark Esper. The US has sent Bradley armored vehicles to Deir Ezzor near the Euphrates River to secure other oil fields near the Omar field and the Conoco gas plant. In February 2018 US and SDF forces clashed with Syrian-backed Russian defense contractors near Deir Ezzor. Russia’s Sputnik published an article in Arabic about the Syrian regime forces at the Mulla Abbas oil field on November 5.


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