The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, warned the US President that any attempt to extract the oil from Syrian oilfields would be illegal. His comments come after Trump suggested on Sunday that he was planning to make a deal with ExxonMobil or another energy company to tap Syrian oil reserves. The President told reporters: “What I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly and spread out the wealth.”
Moreover, on Friday last week the US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper hinted that US troops would be stationed in Syria to protect the oilfields from falling into the hands of ISIS.
He told NATO defence ministers in Brussels: “We are reinforcing that position, it will include some mechanized forces, again I’m not going to get into the details but the mission in Syria remains what the mission in Syria began with, it’s always been about defeating the ISIS coalition.
“That is the core mission.”
These statements have provoked an angry response from both Iran and Russia, who both have strong military presences in Syria.
Speaking to journalists at a news conference on Tuesday evening, the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said: “Well it seems that the United States is staying to protect the oil.
“And at least President Trump is honest to say what the United States intends to do.”
He pointedly added: “Iran and Russia are there on the invitation of the Syrian government, and we intend to stay there as long as the Syrian government and Syrian people want us to be there.”
Mr Lavrov went further in his criticisms, accusing the US of seeking to break international law.
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US Special Forces
The Russian foreign minister said that the return of U.S. forces to Syria, after their transfer to Iraq, was “under the pretext of protecting oil deposits from the Islamic State.”
He continued: “The essence is that any illegal exploitation of natural resources of a sovereign state without its consent is illegal and that is the view that we share.
“Our U.S. colleagues are aware of our position and we will defend that position.”
President Tayyip Erdogan’s communications director also cautioned the US that Syria’s natural resources belonged to it, and it alone.
Mohammad Javad Zarif
Fahrettin Altun said:”Syria’s natural resources belong to Syrians.
“Oil or other types of revenue should be used for reconstruction efforts including local infrastructure, support for civilians, IDPs (internally displaced persons), and refugees.
“Just as Syrians should be able to determine their own political future, they should also be allowed to decide how the resources of their own land should be spent.”
Middle East Cold War
On Sunday, US troops killed the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a major coup for Donald Trump, which has helped to reassert US influence in the region.
The military operation involved eight military helicopters, which flew for more than an hour over territory controlled by Russian and Syrian force.
On landing at al-Baghdadi’s hideaway, the US commandos came under heavy fire from ISIS loyalists.
Returning fire, they breached the walls of his compound, before chasing the ISIS leader down the tunnel, where he detonated his suicide vest.
Trump revealed that the operation took two hours and claimed al-Baghdadi “died like a dog, he died like a coward.”
The remains of the terrorist were identified by DNA testing, before apparently being disposed of at sea.