On Sunday, September 10, the Syrian government called on the United Nations and the international community to hold the United States government “accountable” for the continuing theft of Syrian oil and other natural resources from northeast Syria.
In a letter addressed to the U.N. secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, the Syrian foreign ministry wrote, “U.S. officials must be held accountable for the looting, and the U.S. government must be obliged to pay compensation, end the illegal presence of U.S. forces and return the lands it occupies and the oil and gas fields to the Syrian state.
“The United States of America and its tools of terrorist organizations and militias continue to violate sovereignty and loot the country’s wealth and strategic resources, with the aim of exacerbating the effects of illegal unilateral coercive measures and depriving Syrians of the capabilities of their homeland and increasing their suffering,” the letter continued.
The letter also called for the U.S. to compensate the Syrian government for its losses since the war began in 2011. According to the letter, the losses “amounted to a total of $115.2 billion during the period from 2011 until the end of the first half of 2023.”
Syrian officials calculate their oil sector’s direct losses amount to over $27 billion due to the “theft, waste and burning of extracted oil estimated at 341 million barrels.” There are also indirect losses amounting to $87.7 billion.
Syrian officials also highlighted that as of 2023, the U.S. and its proxy militias throughout northeast Syria plunder around 150,000 barrels of oil per day, along with 413,000 tons of domestic gas and 59.9 million cubic meters of natural gas.
The letter stated that these practices violate provisions of the U.N.’s character and international law.
Just hours before the letter was issued to the U.N., U.S. military forces carried out their latest oil smuggling operation, smuggling more than 90 tankers that had been filled with Syrian oil to U.S. military bases in Iraq through the illegal Al-Mahmoudiya border crossing.
According to local sources in the Hasakah Governorate, 40 tankers of Syrian crude oil were escorted by U.S. forces on Sunday, less than 24 hours after 55 tankers were taken from Syria into Iraq.
U.S. officials claim there are 900 troops stationed throughout Syria. The troops are supposedly split between the oil-rich northeast region of Syria and the Al-Tanf base in the south. However, local observers say the actual number is closer to 2,000 American troops who are being rotated in and out from U.S. bases in Iraq.
The U.S. recently heavily reinforced northeast Syria because of intense clashes between its Kurdish proxy and former Arab cities. The American reinforcements, including the High Mobile Artillery Rocket System, anticipate possible coordinated attacks from Iran, Russia, and Syria.
While U.S. officials claim military forces are occupying northeast Syria to “prevent the return of ISIS”, Jennifer Cafarella, an analyst with the Institute of the Study of War, has noted a different reason for the U.S.’ continued military occupation of northeastern Syria.
“Whether Washington chooses to admit it or not, the U.S. now has direct influence over the vast majority of Syria’s most productive oil fields” and that the SFD’s territorial gains “are Syrian national treasures that, when added up, amount to brute geopolitical power for the U.S.,” Cafarella observed.
According to Firas Shoufi, a columnist with The Cradle, “the main goal of siphoning off Syrian oil to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) is to help the Kurdish Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), which is protected by more than 13 U.S. military bases, to finance its activities and cover its local fuel needs.”