By David Brennan
November 01, 2019 "Information
Clearing House" - Russia's foreign
ministry spokesperson has accused the U.S. of
"criminal activity" with regards to President Donald
Trump's plan to deploy troops to guard oil fields in
Maria Zakharova said Friday that the Trump
administration was engaging in illegal smuggling,
and estimated Washington stands to make tens of
millions of dollars every month from the oil
extracted in the region.
According to state news agency
Tass, Zakharova said the U.S. was "bypassing its
own sanctions" to take the oil—"worth over $30
million per month"—from Syria. She also suggested
the U.S. forces deployed "are not going to leave
these areas in the near future."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper
confirmed last month that U.S. troops
supported by armored vehicles would be
deployed to guard the oil fields.
Officially, the purpose of the mission
is to stop the resources falling back
into the hands of remaining Islamic
State militants, but Trump has said he
would like to bring in U.S. energy
companies to work the fields.
With Trump's abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops
from northeastern Syria last month, Russia has
emerged as the power broker in the country.
The Kremlin is backing
President Bashar al-Assad, and both Moscow and
Damascus have said they will accept nothing less
than the full reunification of the country, ravaged
by eight years of civil war.
America's sudden abdication of its influential
position in the east of the country handed Assad and
Russian President Vladimir Putin a welcome win, but
Trump's decision to leave some troops behind has
rankled both nations.
Zakharova said the international community has a
right to question America's strategy. She
characterized the deployment as the U.S. "pumping
oil out of the northeast of Syria" while it "masks
its criminal activity by some pretexts of a struggle
against the Islamic State."
All the while, she added, the U.S.
"systematically declares its commitment to some
democratic values and international law."
Though Syria is home to significant oil deposits,
the wealth there does not compare to other regional
nations like Iraq or Saudi Arabia. And after several
years of fighting—which has included extensive
aerial bombing campaigns from Russia and the
U.S.-led Western coalition—Syria's oil industry is
in a bad way.
Bloomberg, Syria was able to extract some 24,000
barrels a day last year, worth around $1.5 million
by current prices. Production has fallen by more
than 90 percent thanks to the war and resulting
This article was originally published by "Newsweek"
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