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US, Russian Forces Face Off Near Syria’s Oilfields

U.S. troops blocked on Sunday a Russian military convoy from accessing oilfields in Syria’s northeast, in the fourth such skirmish in eight days, Turkish news outlet Daily Sabah reported.

The Sunday incident, in which the Russian convoy turned around and returned to a Russian base, was the latest tension between American and Russian troops in Syria since January 18.

After their convoy turned back on Sunday, the Russians sent a helicopter which was intercepted by two U.S. helicopters and forced to land, according to the report.

The Al-Hasakah province in the northeast and the Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria bordering Iraq are the two major oil and gas provinces in the country.

After a surprise announcement of pulling the U.S. troops out of Syria in October last year, U.S. President Donald Trump said that the United States would protect Syrian oil fields from ISIS.

President Trump claimed that the U.S. had taken control of the oil in the Middle East, tweeting that “The U.S. has secured the Oil, & the ISIS Fighters are double secured by Kurds & Turkey.”

The President did not elaborate on what he meant by “securing the oil,” but speculations about the President’s statement assume he was referring to the U.S. special forces that have been—and will continue to be—in control of oil and gas fields in Deir Ezzor, Syria’s oil region.

President Trump has vowed to protect Syrian oil fields from ISIS, and the United States may leave 500 troops in northeastern Syria and send in battle tanks and other equipment with the purpose to help the Kurds in the area to protect oil fields that used to be controlled by Islamic State during its so-called caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria.

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Last month, Turkish media reported that the United States had moved more equipment from Iraq into Syria to boost the protection of the oil and gas fields in eastern Syria.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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