26 Oct 2019 11:05

Russian Defense Ministry publishes satellite images of oil trucks leaving Syria under U.S. spec ops' guard

MOSCOW. Oct 26 (Interfax) - The Russian Defense Ministry released on Saturday the satellite surveillance images of oil tank trucks leaving the territory of Syria under the guard of servicemen of the United States Special Operations Forces and employees of U.S. private military companies.

The images were published on the Russian Defense Ministry's website. The map of oil fields and the photographs taken by space surveillance means in September 2019 were posted.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the images depict convoys of oil tank trucks heading outside Syria's borders under the guard of the contingent of the U.S. Special Operations Forces and units of U.S. private military companies

The images were published in response to Pentagon head Mark Esper's statement that the U.S. army is strengthening its positions in Deir ez-Zor, Syria to protect oil fields.

The United States would strengthen its military presence here with "mechanized forces," the U.S. Defense Secretary Esper said.

"We are now taking some actions [...] to strengthen our position at [Deir ez-Zor], to ensure that we can deny ISIS access to the oil fields," Esper said. He noted that the main objective of the mission in the region is fighting against militants.

If militants have access to oil fields, it would be harder to fight with them, he said.

ISIS, or ISIL, is a terrorist group banned in Russia.

It was reported earlier in October that the Pentagon left a small contingent near Deir ez-Zor in the northeast of Syria in light of Iran's presence in the east of Syria and Damascus' possible access to Deir ez-Zor's oil fields.

According to available information, Damascus wanted to regain control over the al-Omar and Conoco oil fields, but was unable to access them due to U.S. troops' presence in the region.

Moreover, subject matter experts noted, Washington is confident that the return of Damascus' control of the oil fields would be beneficial to such allies of Syria as Iran.

On October 9, the Turkish armed forces began an operation in the northeast of Syria to dislodge members of the Kurdish armed formations from the areas near the border. The operation has been suspended now.

Syria has been under an economic blockade for several years. The U.S. and the European Union imposed sanctions on the country.