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A new border crossing between Iraq and Syria is under construction in an area controlled by Iran-affiliated militias, Fox News reports, citing satellite images revealing construction works at the Albukamal Al-Qaim border crossing.
The news outlet also cited unnamed sources as saying Iran was behind the new crossing—the old one was destroyed during one of the many military clashes in both Syria and Iraq—and it aimed to use it as a smuggling channel to Jordan and the Mediterranean coast.
“Without Syrian or Iraqi supervision, Iran and its allies would have an unprecedented advantage in transferring whatever they wish,” Fox News reported, quoting unnamed experts.
The tightening grip of Washington on Tehran through economic sanctions was bound to cause Iran to look for ways to get its oil across borders, so in this sense, the news about a new border crossing is a hardly a surprise. Yet it has not been established who exactly is building the crossing despite the mention of Shiite militia controlling the region.
These militias are active in more than one part of Iraq and were allies of the government in its war on the Islamic State. This has put Iraq in the difficult position of juggling Iranian and U.S. interests, which was what most likely prompted Baghdad’s initiative to try and mediate a de-escalations, although the chances of it succeeding are pretty slim.
Iran also has ties in Syria: along with Russia it has fought against rebel groups including Al-Quaeda offshoots. Earlier this month, Tehran even resumed crude oil shipments to Syria: TankerTrackers.com reported a cargo of 1 million barrels of Iranian crude was spotted reaching Syria on May 5th. It was the first Iranian oil cargo sent there since the start of 2019.
Iran has also sealed a series of trade deals with Syria, Newsweek recently reported, including one for the management of the Latakia port on the Mediterranean coast.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.