US Troops Blocked Russians From Oilfields in NE Syria

US repeatedly blocked Russian convoy near Rmelan

A series of standoffs on Saturday saw US troops in Syria, who are there to “control the oil,” confronting a Russian military convoy near the town of Rmelan. There were multiple incidents where the US forces stopped the convoy.

The belief among US forces was that the Russian convoy was trying to gain access to key oilfields in the area of Rmelan. These oilfields are among the ones that President Trump has claimed for the US.

Turkish media were the first to break the story of his confrontation. It may be that the matter is overstated, and no shots were fired by either side. Still, having US and Russian troops in close proximity hassling one another over Syrian oil is worrying, and could quickly turn into a big problem for all concerned.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed to the media that the current US mission in Syria, which President Trump has simplified to just keeping the oil, included keeping the Russians away from the oil.

There has been no suggestion that the Russian have any intention of trying to take Syria’s oil the way the US does, but Russian control of Syria’s oil would imply the Syrian government has control over their own oil, a virtual necessity for the long-term survival of the Assad government post-war. The US is clearly keen to maintain control over Syria’s oil, but with no real chance of extracting it, it’s not clear they’ll remain willing to fight Russia over it.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.