Deployment of US military hardware in one of the key centers of oil extraction in Syria — Rumeilan District in the Al-Hasakah Province — strains tensions in the country, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told reporters on Friday.
“We cannot welcome that [redeployment of US military equipment]. On the contrary, it only leads to unnecessary escalation and tensions,” he said.
The diplomat underlined that there are no Islamic State terrorists in this part of Syria that the US is allegedly going to repel to protect oil fields.
“There are two Syrian delegations at Astana [peace talks] — one from the government and one from the opposition. As I understand, Syrians did not ask the US to do them such a favor,” he pointed out. “Natural resources should belong to the people and this country and, naturally, should be controlled by the legitimate government considering that all other issues should be resolved through contacts that are happening between Syrians themselves in Astana, Geneva or any other place.”
Bogdanov added that issues of illegal foreign military presence as well as cessation of hostilities in Syria will be the key topics at the upcoming Astana peace talks in Nur-Sultan on December 10.
On Thursday, the Syrian SANA news agency reported that US military hardware was being redeployed to the Rumeilan District. According to the agency, dozens of pieces of military equipment are redeployed.
On October 9, Ankara launched a new military operation in northern Syria dubbed Peace Spring, which began with airstrikes on positions of Kurdish units. The objective is to create a buffer zone in northern Syria where Syrian refugees could return, Ankara claims. The buffer zone will also establish a security belt for the Turkish border. The Syrian SANA news agency branded the operation as aggression, while the international community condemned Ankara’s actions.
On October 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum on joint actions in northeastern Syria. According to the document, as of noon October 23, Russian military police and Syrian border guards started to monitor the withdrawal of Kurdish military formations to the depth of 30 km from the border.
On the outcomes of the agreement, Ankara stated that it had suspended its large-scale military operation in the area. However, Turkey retains control over the territories where it plans to relocate Syrian refugees in the future.
The United States is also staying firm in the region, even though US President Donald Trump announced intention to pull out American troops from the area where Turkey was conducting its military operation in late October. He then pointed out that Washington intends to keep control over oil fields in northeast Syria to protect them from Islamic State terrorists and fighters.