Robert HARNEIS -TDO-(FRANCE)- The Syrian government has attacked a recent deal between a US oil company and the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that control most of the country’s northeast. A government source told journalists that the SDF and US effort to “steal” Syrian oil is “null and void” and has no “legal effect.” The source described the deal as an “integrated and aggravated theft.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed rumors of the deal in a Senate hearing when asked about it by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Graham said he spoke with an SDF leader about the agreement, and asked Pompeo if the administration was supportive of the deal.

“We are,” Pompeo responded to Graham, “The deal took a little longer … than we had hoped, and now we’re in implementation.” So far, which US oil firm is involved in the agreement is unknown.

After President Trump announced his plan to withdraw US troops from northeast Syria in October 2019, Senator Graham, along with retired Army General Jack Keane, urged the president to stay and protect the region’s oil fields from falling in the hands of Iran or ISIS. Trump eventually decided to stay in Syria to “secure the oil.”

The Syrian government states that the US presence in the country is illegal and that any US extraction of oil in the region will be regarded as theft. Syria is rebuilding after nine-years of war, and heavy US sanctions are making this difficult, recent measures specifically target construction and energy sectors. Retaining possession of oil fields is another way of hindering Syrian recovery.

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