Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Saturday that the United States is involved in smuggling Syrian oil to other countries, with the convoys of stolen oil being guarded by US private military companies and special operations forces.
Russia’s defense ministry provided satellite images it claims show US oil transit vehicles gather near Al-Omar oil station in Dayr al-Zawr Province, Syria:
“Container trucks guarded by US military servicemen and private military companies smuggle oil from fields in eastern Syria to other countries,” Konashenkov said, adding that “in the event of any attack on such a convoy, US special operations forces and combat aviation are immediately used to protect it.”
On Friday, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the US would send armored vehicles and troops to the Syrian oil fields to protect them from being captured by Islamic State fighters.
On February 7, 2018, in what later became known as the Battle of Khasham, American forces inflicted massive air and artillery strikes on Syrian pro-government forces near the town of Khasham, after those had ″initiated an unprovoked attack against well-established Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters” in the area.
According to the NY Times, the four-hour assault by around 500 pro-Syrian government forces—including Russian mercenaries—ended with the killing of as many as 300 of the attacking fighters. The rest retreated under merciless American airstrikes. None of the 40 Americans involved were harmed.
Konashenkov’s accusations on Saturday suggest that the reason for that heroic performance by US servicemen had to do with protecting illegal extractions of Syrian oil. He noted that the contract for transporting the oil was executed by a US-controlled company called Sadcub which operates at the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) autonomous administration of eastern Syria.
“Revenues from smuggling Syrian oil arrive at numbered bank accounts of US private military companies and intelligence services through brokerage firms that interact with it,” Konashenkov said.
According to Russia’s defense ministry, given that the cost of one barrel of oil smuggled from Syria is $38, Sadcub’s monthly revenue from smuggling Syrian oil is more than $30 million.
“To secure such a continuous financial flow free from control and taxes, the top officials at the Pentagon and Langley will be willing to guard and protect oil wells in Syria from the imaginary ‘hidden cells of the Islamic State’ indefinitely,” Konashenkov suggested cynically.