The US-led coalition is selling oil looted at oilfields in southern Deir Ezzor to Turkey, Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview with China’s Phoenix Television. Assad said that “the Turkish regime plays a direct part in selling the oil, previously with Jabhat al-Nusra, later with ISIS and today with the Americans.” The President said that there are no prospects for the US presence in the country and if US troops remain, they will face a popular resistance and “pay the price”.
Despite Assad remarks, by now US forces had faced little difficulties with their presence in the oil-rich part of eastern Syria. No attacks on US troops by some local resistance or major security incidents of this kind took place during the last few months. However, this may change if the situation in the region escalates.
Over the past week, the Syrian Army has expanded its military presence in northeastern Syria, especially along the M4 highway. The only security incident between Syrian and US troops happened near the al-Qamishli airport, where a Syrian Army unit blocked a US military convoy and forced it to turn around. After this, the US military send reinforcements to the countryside of the city.
On December 15, Turkish President Recep Erdogan repeated his claims that Russia and the United States have not facilitated the complete withdrawal of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, the core of the Syrian Democratic Forces, from the agreed safe zone area. He claimed that there are still “terrorists” in Manbij and “Turkey is full of resolve on fighting against terrorism”. Mimicking Assad, Erdogan said that the “terrorists”, the term used in Turkey to describe Kurdish armed groups, sell oil to the Assad government.