A large US military convoy entered northeastern Syria Thursday, the Syrian state-run SANA news agency reported over the weekend.
“A convoy that consists of 73 vehicles affiliated to the US occupation has entered the Syrian territories under the protection of six cars affiliated to [Syrian Democratic Forces] QSD militia which accompanied them till they reached the occupation’s illegitimate base at Khrab al-Jir military airport,” local sources told the media outlet. The convoy reportedly got into Syria through the Al Waleed border crossing from Iraq and arrived at the northeast of Hasakah province.
While “other local media” noted that such resupply convoys are not uncommon, SANA’s report added that an additional 200 U.S. troops were choppered into the Hasakah province as well. The report claimed that the additional troops will deploy to protect nearby oilfields on land that buttresses Kurdish-controlled territory in eastern Syria that is also said to be rich in energy resources. “The US-led coalition has been working closely with the Kurds during the campaign against the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria, with Kurdish forces often working as ground coordinators for coalition jets during airstrikes,” i24 News reported.
The US military is stationed in the provinces of Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor without a legal basis. The Syrian authorities have repeatedly stated that the presence of the US contingent in the country violated the country’s sovereignty and international law. The Syrian Civil War has been ongoing since 2011, with President Bashar Assad’s forces fighting against different insurgent groups, including the Daesh terrorist organisation, the defeat of which in Syria and Iraq was announced at the end of 2017. As of now, the country’s authorities have been primarily focusing on the political settlement of the ongoing crisis, the restoration of Syria and the return of refugees [AMN News].
On Wednesday, the day Biden was inaugurated, the Syrian government sent him a message imploring him to withdraw American forces from the country. Bashar al-Jaafari, Syria’s UN ambassador, criticized U.S. actions in the country during a virtual session of the Security Council as his country’s civil war approached its 10th anniversary. “The American occupation forces continue to plunder Syria’s wealth of oil, gas, and agricultural crops, burning and destroying what it cannot steal,” he said. “The new U.S. administration must stop acts of aggression and occupation, plundering the wealth of my country, withdraw its occupying forces from it, and stop supporting separatist militias, illegal entities, and attempts to threaten Syria’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity,” he added [BPR].
Late last year, President Donald Trump had ordered U.S. forces in the area withdrawn to neighboring Iraq. For the duration of his four-year term, Trump attempted to withdraw American troops from decades-long conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and, more recently, Syria. But reportedly got constant push-back from his defense and national security advisers and Cabinet members, leading to the firing or resignation of several.
In September, then-Democratic presidential nominee Biden claimed he wanted to draw down troop levels but added he would not withdraw U.S. forces completely. “These ‘forever wars’ have to end. I support drawing down the troops. But here’s the problem, we still have to worry about terrorism and [the Islamic State],” he said in an interview at the time. He said he supported a “small U.S. military footprint” where the troops’ primary mission would be to engage in or facilitate special operations against ISIS and other terrorist groups, according to Stars & Stripes.
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: AP PHOTO