Asia Fact Check Lab: Did America Steal Oil From Syria As China Says?

in short

In the past few months, China has repeatedly accused the US of illegally stealing oil from Syria in an “act of banditry”.

The Asian Fact-Checking Laboratory (AFCL) confirmed that the allegations echo those reported by official Syrian media. The Syrian government led by Bashar al-Assad has no control over much of the country’s northeast, which is held by an anti-government coalition known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). US and international media have reported that an American company has secured an oil deal in the area, but with the approval of the SDF, which helped oust ISIS terrorist forces who previously controlled oil production there. The US currently allows non-governmental organizations to buy petroleum in Syria, but the products must remain in Syria for non-profit use.

In depth

“The illegal exploitation of natural resources by foreign troops in Syria must be stopped immediately.” Dai Bing, Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations He said in the United Nations Security Council’s statement on Syria January 26 in China’s state media Global Times report. The article said US troops were “beaten” for “stealing” oil from Syria.

China has repeatedly accused the United States of taking Syrian oil in recent months. In a January 17 press conference for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a China Central Television (CCTV) reporter quoted a Syrian government news report as saying that the “illegal” US military in the country had secretly moved 53 oil tankers from northeastern al-Sham. Hasaka to northern Iraq. Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin described the incident as “illegal looting” and “robbery”. He said the United States is exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

At a press conference on January 17, spokesman Wang Wenbin said the US had “illegally stolen oil” from Syria. Photo/screenshot of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
Several State Department spokesmen have accused the United States of stealing Syrian oil in several press conferences over the past few months. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website photo/screenshot

Where did these accusations of oil theft come from?

The information recently mentioned in the January 17 press conference by a CCTV reporter follows January 14 report by the Syrian Arab News Agency. The SANA report, citing anonymous local sources, accused US troops of hijacking 53 oil tankers. The brief report provides few details and only a single photo of the fuel tanker. There is no explanation or source accompanying the photo, and no mention of an agreement between the US company and the SDF.

January 14 Syrian Arab News Agency reported on US oil theft. Photo/screenshot of the SANA report

Correspondents from the official Chinese media cited similar SANA reports in previous press releases and made general allegations without further context. SANA’s reports never mention where the theft took place and sometimes the same photo is used again.

SANA reports on US oil thefts from December, November and September 2022. Photo/screenshot of SANA reports

Is America getting oil in Syria?

Credible media reports that American companies have extracted oil in northeastern Syria.. But the Chinese do not have enough context to say that America is stealing Syria’s resources.

The SDF is independent from the Syrian government led by Bashar al-Assad and occupies the northeastern part of the country. In the year In 2020, Delta Crescent Energy, a small American oil company, signed a contract with SDF that would allow the company to extract oil. The State Department did not reveal many details about the agreement, however American media reports Politics Some of the oil was refined for local use, while the rest was sent to Iraq and Turkey, he said.

The Syrian government strongly criticized the deal, saying that the US is taking the country’s oil without its consent. State-sponsored media in Russia and Iran They described US actions as “theft” and “plunder” of Syrian resources.

America and International Media outlets and Think tanks They covered the oil deal Delta signed with SDF in 2020. According to CNN, the agreement was signed in secret and Delta Crescent was created by former political and military forces. officials during the Trump administration. News reports said the deal was approved by the United States to prevent Russia, Syria’s Assad regime and the Islamic State terrorist group that controls the region from benefiting from oil production.

Recently published story Asker Delta Crescent first revealed how it was awarded the contract and the company’s problems with the Biden administration. The company’s license expires in 2021. Reports at the time indicated that the White House was planning to withdraw support for the oil industrys in Syria.

“Syrian oil is for the Syrian people. The United States does not own, control or manage any of these resources, nor do we want to,” a State Department spokesperson told AFCL. A spokesman said the department had no comment on the practices of private companies there.

The spokesman told AFCL that the SDF will continue to cut off oil and gas revenues from IS in northeastern Syria, which it has previously used to support its terror campaign.

The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which originally approved the Delta Crescent oil deal in Syria, now allows non-governmental organizations to buy only refined petroleum products from Syria. The products must be used for profit purposes in Syria. Currently, oil extraction is not a permitted practice. Code of Federal Regulations And General license of Syria Issued by OFCO in 2022.

The Asia Fact-Checking Lab (AFCL) is a new RFA branch established to combat disinformation in today’s complex media environment. Our journalists produce daily and special reports that aim to enhance and enhance our readers’ understanding of public affairs.

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