Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that the United States is selling to Turkey the oil seized in the Syrian fields. He made this comment during an interview with the Chinese television channel Phoenix, the text of which was quoted by the Syrian state news agency SANA on Dec. 16.
Asked about what is happening with oil extracted from fields east of the Euphrates River, Assad said the U.S. is now “stealing oil and selling it to Turkey.”
He said that before the seizure of these oil wells by the U.S., Jebhat al-Nusra and then the ISIL were engaged in this business.
“Before the Americans, in the early days Jabhat al-Nusra used these wells; after ISIS came and drove out al-Nusra – or rather when ISIS merged with al-Nusra and they all became ISIS, it also stole and sold oil. Where? It used to sell it through Turkey. Now America is the one stealing oil and selling it to Turkey,” he said.
“Turkey is an accomplice, with all these groups, in selling oil; it doesn’t have a problem – Turkey is ready. The Turkish regime plays a direct part in selling the oil, previously with al-Nusra, later with ISIS and today with the Americans.”
In October, U.S. President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the U.S. military forces from Syria, clearing the way for a Turkish offensive. Trump however said that Washington intends to maintain the control of oil fields in the country's northeast.
Answering a question on how the Syrian government is going to face the American presence in the oil fields east of the Euphrates, Assad said: “First, the Americans rely on terrorists. The terrorists must be attacked, this is a priority for us in Syria. Striking the terrorists weakens the American presence one way or another.”
He also said that Syrian groups “acting under the American command” must be persuaded to give support to the Syrian state, in an apparent reference to the People's Protection Units (YPG). “It is in all our interests in Syria that they embrace the homeland and join the Syrian state’s efforts to liberate all its territories. At that point, it’s only natural that there will be no prospect for an American presence," he said.
He also warned the U.S. of a “popular resistance” if its military forces remained in Syria. “However, if they remained, they have their experience in Iraq to consider; there will be a popular resistance and they will pay the price. Ultimately, the Americans will leave.”