Damascus Says Areas of Syria Occupied by US Troops Will Soon Return to Government Control

Ilya Tsukanov
The United States and its Syrian Kurdish militia allies control wide swathes of territory in eastern Syria, including areas producing the vast majority of the Arab Republic’s oil, gas and food. Damascus has accused Washington of stealing these resources, and demanded repeatedly that the US withdraw its forces.

The US occupation of eastern Syria will soon be brought to an end, Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad has said.

“The illegal US presence in the Jazira region of northern Syria is reaching its end, and the regions occupied by American forces will soon come under the Damascus government’s authority,” Mekdad said, speaking to Syria’s al-Ikhbariyah TV.

Mekdad called on the majority Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces militias to realize that America would eventually withdraw and abandon them.

The foreign minister said Damascus’s principled support for the Palestinian cause, and its efforts to liberate Israeli-occupied territories in the Golan Heights and southern Lebanon were among the key causes behind the foreign-backed conflict which has rocked Syria since 2011.

“Given Syria’s strong commitment to such positions, as well as its strategic location and great regional influence, hostile nations have been trying to affect the Damascus government’s policies. Having failed in their attempts, they resorted to terrorism and sponsored this menace with billions of dollars,” Mekdad said.

This foreign-backed effort to break up the country has failed, Mekdad stressed.

US forces have occupied oil and food-rich areas of Syria since 2017, entering the country under the pretext of fighting Daesh (ISIS). The Islamist militia rampaged through northern and western Iraq and eastern Syria from 2013-2017 before being pushed back and defeated by an unlikely coalition including the Syrian and Iraqi governments, Iraqi Shia militias, Russia, Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, and, at least formally, the United States.The Islamist militia rampaged through northern and western Iraq and eastern Syria from 2013-2017 before being pushed back and defeated by an unlikely coalition including the Syrian and Iraqi governments, Iraqi Shia militias, Russia, Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, and, at least formally, the United States.

The Biden administration has expressed no intention of withdrawing US forces from Syria, with at least 900 troops and an unknown number of defence contractors operating across ten or more bases dotting the country’s northeast.

Syrian officials and media have accused these forces of guarding oil and gas production facilities, and of escorting convoys of oil tankers and food-laden trucks out of the country into Iraq, while bringing weaponry and supplies for bases in. Unlike his predecessor Donald Trump, who openly bragged about being in Syria to “take” and “keep the oil,” Joe Biden has insisted that the US’s illegal presence in the country is about “preventing a resurgence” of Daesh. The Syrian army and ordinary residents regularly confront US occupation forces using non-lethal means, including by blocking off local roads and setting up checkpoints to try to stop American armoured vehicles from using them.