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Iran Press TV

US, Russian forces skirmish in northeast Syria

Iran Press TV

Monday, 27 January 2020 11:23 AM

US forces present in areas controlled by Kurdish militants in northeastern Syria have clashed with Russian troops amid accusations that Washington is stealing Syria's oil.

The confrontation took place at the entrance to Tal Tamr in Syria's northeastern province of Hasakah. The strategic town lies on a highway to the region's key oilfields.

Following the confrontation, Russian and American vehicles headed in two different directions, the Moscow Times reported.

The standoff was followed by Russian helicopters and US warplanes flying over Tal Tamr, it added.

Russia has been helping Syrian forces in the ongoing battles across the conflict-plagued Arab country.

The Russian military's assistance began in September 2015 at the official request of the Syrian government, while the US deployed troops and equipment to Syria in 2014 without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate.

The Saturday confrontation is reportedly the fourth of its kind in less than two weeks, Turkey's Daily Sabah newspaper reported Sunday.

Last week, US forces claimed they had prevented Russian troops from approaching the oilfields in Hasakah.

The skirmishes took place amid an ongoing dispute between the US and Russia over Rumeylan oilfield, which lies in Hasakah.

The latest developments come as the US has dispatched new deployments to the Syrian provinces of Hasakah and Dayr al-Zawr over the past weeks.

The deployments followed President Donald Trump's October decision to keep hundreds of US troops in Syria to "secure" the country's oilfields which Syrian troops have yet to retake from militants.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated that US attempts to control Syria's oilfields were "illegal" and amounted to "robbery."

Damascus is in great need of its major oil deposits in order to address its energy needs and rebuild the country amid crippling Western sanctions.

The Arab country has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.

The Arab country is currently extracting oil at only 10 percent of its pre-war capacity.

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