US Troops Seen Blocking Russians From Syrian Oilfields In Series Of Dangerous Standoffs
Yet another dangerous incident has played out between American and Russian forces operating in Syria in what appears a series of standoffs near key oil installations since Saturday. “This is the third incident that occurred within a week,” one local reporter told VOA in an alarming report.
Days ago we reported on the first incident involving a US convoy blocking a Russian convoy on a highway near the town of Rmelan, after the Americans were apparently concerned the Russians were going to enter an oil field, which the US administration says it has “secured”.
But now Voice of America reports three total incidents, with the most recent ones happening Tuesday and Wednesday in al-Hasakah province, as newly detailed by the opposition outlet Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
All of the incidents involved US forces blocking Russian military vehicles and forcing them to turn around as they neared sensitive oil installations held by the US-backed Kurdish SDF and American special forces in Syria’s northeast.
One eyewitness reporter on the ground described the following:
The incident on Tuesday is part of a series of similar incidents that happened in recent days between the two powers over their presence in Syria, local sources said.
“This is the third incident that occurred within a week,” said Nishan Mohammad, a local reporter who said he witnessed another recent standoff between U.S. and Russian troops in northeast Syria.
“I was there last weekend when U.S. soldiers stopped Russian military vehicles and forced them to head back to their base,” he told VOA in a phone interview Tuesday.
While none of these close encounters between two major powers on disputed soil resulted in exchange of gunfire, it presents a potentially deadly situation which could set off spiraling escalation between two superpowers.
This is especially the case given the US and Russia now have small military installations dotting northern Syria in somewhat close proximity to one another.
Months ago US troops withdrew from some northernmost Syrian towns amid a Turkish military incursion.
In some instances Russian forces immediately came in and took over the same installations, such as the sizable Sirrin Air Base in the northern Aleppo area.
While it doesn’t appear Russia has any intent to “take the oil” like the White House has repeatedly pledged, Russian forces there do represent the interests of it’s ally Assad and the Syrian Army.
And as Trump continues talking up “securing the oil” — most recently at Davos — Assad has simultaneously promised to retake all of sovereign Syria, especially the oil-rich Deir Ezzor and Hasakah provinces.
President Trump said while addressing reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Wednesday: “But very importantly, as you know, we have the oil. And we left soldiers for the oil, because we take the oil and we’re working on that, and we have it very nicely secured.”