Unidentified gunmen attack fuel tankers near Ayn Issa belong to a businessman close to the regime and is under European sanctions
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights learned that unidentified gunmen on motorcycles attacked today afternoon, a column of tankers loaded with fuel on one of the dirt roads near Ayn Issa town north-west of Al-Raqqah city, where the tankers belong to “Qaterji’s company”, and the attack was carried out by using machineguns, which resulted in the killing of 3 of the tankers’ drivers in addition to the burning of 2 tankers, and the SOHR published on the 7th of September 2019 that at a time when the Syria Democratic Forces and the International Coalition are carrying out security operations against the continuous smuggling towards regime forces’-controlled areas through water crossings in Deir Ezzor countryside; Manbij crossing between areas of control of Manbij Military Council of the Syria Democratic Forces and between regime forces’-controlled areas northeast Aleppo, is witnessing the entry of tens of oil tankers loaded with oil and gasoline from the Syria Democratic Forces’ controlled areas to regime forces’-controlled areas, where the Syrian Observatory monitored by video the entry of tens of trucks waiting their turn to cross into regime’s areas through Manbij crossing, in conjunction with a large popular discontent within areas of control of the “Autonomous Administration,” due to high prices of fuel, where the price of the first-class gasoline is 125 SYP per liter and the regular gasoline is 75 SYP per liter, while the price of Benzine reached 100 SYP per liter, and there is a big interruption and difficulty in providing them, while the Syrian Observatory published on the 5th of 2019 that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitored a new security operations by the International Coalition and the Syria Democratic Forces against the water crossings in al-Shuhayl town east of Deir Ezzor, where they confiscated 2 trucks loaded with wheat, which were prepared to transport cargo to the other bank of Euphrates River to regime forces’-controlled areas, also the Syria Democratic Forces detonated several water ferries in the area, but operations of the Syria Democratic Forces did not really work, as the smuggling continues by smugglers well known in the area who smuggle both in secret and public, and the Syrian Observatory published on the 7th of August 2019 that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights learned that the Syria Democratic Forces supported by the International Coalition; carried out a new operation against the water crossings in al-Shuhayl town and al-Hwaij village in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor, through which smuggling of oil, wheat, and barley takes place from the Syria Democratic Forces’ controlled areas to regime forces’-controlled areas, where the Syria Democratic Forces blew up the ferries used in smuggling, but these repeated operations by the Syria Democratic Forces and the Coalition have not limited the smuggling which are still taking place, and the Syrian Observatory published on the 7th of July 2019 that it seems that the trade and smuggling of oil from the Syria Democratic Forces’ controlled areas to regime forces’-controlled areas is not enough for the businessman loyal to the Syrian regime, who is called “Qaterji”, where the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights learned from several reliable sources that “Qaterji” started buying the wheat crops from the Syria Democratic Forces’ controlled areas in Deir Ezzor Province and supplied it to the Grain Foundation of the Syrian regime, the sources confirmed that tens of trucks loaded with wheat have been transported through water ferries from al-Shuhayl town, which is controlled by Syria Democratic Forces to Boqruss town which is under controlled by the regime forces east of Deir Ezzor, where the smuggling process takes place during the hours of the night and the crossings stop during the day, al-Qaterji expanded his trade early this year to the wheat trade along with oil trade with strong protection from the Syrian security members; and away from being hold accountable by the Syria Democratic Forces who prevent the smuggling towards regime forces’-controlled areas, it is worth mentioning that the “al-Qaterji” has been on the international sanctions list for about a year, and he is accused of supplying the regime with various weapons and being the godfather of deals between the “Islamic State” Organization and the regime, as well as oil and wheat deals before the eyes of the International Coalition.
The Syrian Observatory published on the 31st of March 2019 that Syrian Observatory for Human Rights continued its search and investigation in the file of smuggling oil and its derivatives, from the controlled areas of the Syria Democratic Forces in the east of the Euphrates, towards the regime’s controlled areas in the west of the Euphrates River, through the area of the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor, and in the details documented by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights; the process of smuggling crude oil, mazut and petrol from the SDF-held areas to the controlled areas of the regime forces are being carried out via a single smuggling network, run by one of the dealers loyal to the regime and who is nicknamed “Al-Katerji”, under the protection of the security members and the regime forces of the 4th Division forces, on the western bank of the Euphrates River which is under the control of the regime forces and their allies, and tribal gunmen on the eastern bank of the River, with cooperation and collusion by some of the SDF members.
Reliable sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory that the process of smuggling of fuel and oil, is carried out away from the SDF’s calling to account, which (the SDF) had officially prevented the oil from being smuggled to the controlled areas of the regime forces across the Euphrates River, where the smuggling are being carried out despite the SDF’s threats to close the crossing points or even shell them, at the time when smuggling processes are being carried out under the sight of the International Coalition forces, whose reconnaissance planes fly daily over the crossing points, and the Syrian Observatory learned that the dealers buy each barrel of crude oil for 25 – 28 US dollars, from the wells which are under the supervision of investors of those contracted with the Syria Democratic Forces, in return for a sum of money depends on the quality and abundance of the oil then the dealers sell the oil to Al-Katerji Company, which is a company owned by a businessman loyal to the regime who came under sanctions by the European Union, and reliable sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory that the oil is mainly transported to the other side of the river, from Al-Shuhayl town to Layiz area in Bakrus town in 2 ways, the first is carried out through pumping the oil via pipes extended from Al-Shuhayl town east of the Euphrates to Bakrus town in the west of the Euphrates River, via pumps and pipes whose number reaches 4 and they are owned by ((Hafez Al-Jadou’, Abd Al-Wahab Hamad Al-Noufal, Ammar Abboud Al-Shi’ibi and Khaleef Al-Akkar)) who belong to different tribal divisions, the second way of transporting the oil between the two sides is carried out through taking the oil via ferries specially designed for this purpose, where the tanks which are called “Al-Hout” or the “Whale”, are emptied into the ferry’s tanks, or transfer the tank itself via a massive crane onto the ferry’s deck, and this second way is being carried out through 3 crossing points they are ((Abd Al-Jabbar Al-Hasan Crossing, Abdullah Al-Rabah Crossing and Al-Hamd Crossing)).
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights learned from intersected sources that the owners of the crossing points and the lines through which the smuggling processes take place, get sums of money reaches SYP 1500 in return for transporting each single barrel, at the same time, a representative of Al-Katerki’s company –called Khalil Hemdan Al-Ateesh who is from Bakrus Foqani town west of the Euphrates- runs the process of transporting the oil between the two sides, while accountants affiliated to Al-Katerki’s company are in the house of Hamza Hussein Al-Maddad in Al-Shuhayl town east of the Euphrates, to pay the value of the transported oil, where a receipt is written down with a value equals that one of the amount of oil delivered to Bakrus town on the western bank of the Euphrates River, by the representative of Al-Katerki’s company, then the payback is cashed through the accountant in Al-Shuhayl town, also after the oil is emptied in Bakrus town, it is taken in tankers belong to Al-Katerki’s company to Homs province and the Syrian – Iraqi border, under the regime forces’ protection.
The reliable sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory that about 16000 barrels of crude oil and its derivatives are being smuggled daily, which caused pollution to the agricultural land, in addition to the pollution to the Euphrates River, as well as damaging the roads that have not designed for large tankers whose capacity reaches 200 barrels, the reliable sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory that there is a man from Bakrus town has raised a complaint as his land has been polluted with oil, without receiving any response, the smuggling also resulted in raising the prices of fuels in the SDF-held areas, where the price of a barrel of mazut reached SYP 27000, according to its quality, and the price of a barrel of the normal petrol is SYP 38000, while a barrel of the extra petrol reaches SYP 40000, the processes of transport are not limited to the smuggling of oil and mazut, where large amounts of foodstuffs, vegetables and meat are also transported daily to the controlled areas of the regime forces which witness great rise in prices, which led to a negative reaction by the locals in the controlled areas of the Syria Democratic Forces, who expressed their discontent against the general situation of the oil and went out in demonstrations in several different areas denouncing the rise of prices.
And the Syrian Observatory published today, the 31st of March 2019, that the area stretched between Theban town to Al-Shuhayl area, is still witnessing processes of smuggling fuels of crude oil and mazut towards the controlled areas of the regime forces, through smugglers in the area, despite the continued attempts by the Syria Democratic Forces and the Internal Security Forces (Asayish) to limit this phenomenon through spreading their forces in the area, where the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights learned that the SDF managed to arrest 7 persons in Darnaj village while they were trying to smuggle oil to the regime’s controlled areas, also a person was killed after being shot by members of the SDF while he was trying to escape to the controlled areas of the regime forces, the SDF’s attempts have not helped much to decrease such actions of smuggling, especially with the presence of smugglers who have long reputation in the smuggling business even before the start of the Syrian Revolution, the most prominent of whom is that smuggling godfather who has a vast network in the area there, and who has smuggled fuels and other goods during the control of the “Islamic State” organization through a network of smugglers ordered by him, and he is continuing on the same way with the control of SDF over the area, and the Syrian Observatory published on the 27th of March 2019, that the challenges in the post-ISIS stage and its end as a dominant force in the east Euphrates area and in the Syria Democratic Forces’ controlled areas are increasing, and while the Organization continues to revenge for its loss of oil, smugglers move between banks of the Euphrates River in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor, in an organized smuggling operations by smugglers away from being held accountable, and in the details obtained by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: the area extending from Thiban town to al-Shuhayl area in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor on the east bank of Euphrates River; is witnessing smuggling of fuel from raw oil and gasoline towards regime forces’-controlled areas, and the reliable sources confirmed that each day about 100 – 130 tankers of oil and fuel are smuggled, which gives huge profits for the regime and smugglers at first place, in addition to the risk of transferring these crossings to crossings for sleeper cells of the regime and crossings to pass weapons and equipment to these cells, while reliable sources informed the Syrian Observatory that these crossings have been operating for weeks in the area, without being monitored or held accountable by the authorities which control the east Euphrates area, who are the Syria Democratic Forces and the Internal security forces “Asayish”.
Reliable sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory their fears that these crossings turned into doors to pass weapons, drugs, banned materials, and explosives to the areas of east Euphrates in order to drown it in chaos, in addition to exploiting these crossings in the process of smuggling weapons by the regime and Iranians; to cells belong to them east of Euphrates area, at the time when these cells and others of the “Islamic State” Organization carry out almost daily attacks in the area, and the Syrian Observatory published in December 2018, that amid the hustle and bustle of death and the accumulation of tragedy day after day, the oil continues to be poured just like the Syrian blood, but the colors were different, and despite their differences the people of this country have not eaten form its goods, and they become homeless, humiliated, wandering in their country, displaced, refugees, and rejected by their shelters, they have become workers in their land but left only with some crumbs to fill some of their children’s hunger. And as the regime forces and the Russians are taking control with their security and economic companies over the oil of the west of Euphrates and the Syrian Desert and securing them fearing the return of ISIS, the east of Euphrates which is controlled by the Syria Democratic Forces is witnessing the pumping, selling, and trading of oil, and regarding that, the Syrian Observatory conducted a research into the nature of the work and the action in dealing with oil.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights learned from several reliable sources that the fields of al-Omar and al-Tank, are pumping on a daily basis a total of 20000 barrels from 5 wells named after families and people used to control these wells after the regime lost the control of the area, and they are the wells of: “Abu Loqman, Abu Shawarib, Abu Naylunah, al-Bashar, Abu Jamrah”, the sources confirmed that filling the barrels or tankers is carried out by pumping oil to tankers some of which can fill 100 barrels and called “al-Hout” (the whale), while other tankers can fill more than 200 barrels called “al-Dudah” (the worm). The value of the barrel is about 7000 SYP, and the reliable sources confirmed that part of the sale is done with owners of the oil refiners, who refine the oil in areas east of Euphrates and in areas controlled by Syria Democratic Forces, while the other part is sold to regime forces’-controlled areas and regime’s refineries, where tankers of Syrian businessmen who work by the name of “al-Qaterji”, transports hundreds of thousands of barrels per day to the oil refineries in regime forces’-controlled areas, also there are investments made by civilians, especially the elders of Deir Ezzor province and east of Euphrates, where the investment process works for 24 hours in exchange for a fixed amount of about 3 million Syrian pounds or more, depending on the well and its activity.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also learned from reliable sources that the pumping operation in the wells of al-Tank and al-Omar is automated, without the need for tools and equipment as happens in other fields such as al-Meleh Field and al-Azraq Field which contains 14 wells, plus al-Benzeen Field which is known for its excellent oil quality, while the Syrian Observatory monitored the ignite of a flame in al-Tank oilfield and the gas field of al-Omar field, while the system of measuring the weight of the tanker on the weights was adopted, fearing the fraud in the filling process or in the number of barrels, where they weight the tanker while it is empty and then they weigh it again after filling it to confirm the accuracy of the quantity, also the same sources confirmed that the Syria Democratic Forces are tighten their guard on the fields and oil wells, and impose a fine of up to 2000 USD on oil thieves, where the fine depends on the amount of the stolen oil.