US Denies Reports It Has 'Multiple Patriot Missile Batteries' Deployed Near Massive Syrian Gas Field
18:43 GMT 27.05.2020(updated 18:48 GMT 27.05.2020)
US forces in northeastern Syria began to redeploy from the border with Turkey to the country's interior and oil and gas fields last October, after Ankara launched an abortive invasion of the area targeting the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces militia.
The United States has not deployed Patriot missile systems in Syria, Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III has tweeted.
"More fake news in Syria. No Patriots in Syria," he wrote, accompanying the post with a Pinocchio emoji and a link to an alleged image of a Patriot system, which he said was "a photo from another nation."
The tweet followed a report by Iran's Arabic-language Al-Alam News Network citing local sources alleging that US coalition forces had deployed multiple Patriot missile batteries at Koniko gas field, a massive Syrian gas field situated about 20 km east of the city of Deir ez-Zor.
Al-Alam's sources said that in addition to the Koniko deployment, US forces were also deploying similar air defence systems in other US-controlled areas in northeastern Syria.
'Keeping the Oil'
The US moved to shore up its control over oil-rich areas in northeastern Syria late last year after President Trump said he "liked" oil and promised to "keep" Syria's oil and prevent fields from being transferred to the control of either the Syrian government or Daesh (ISIS)* remnants. The Russian military released a detailed report on the extent of US oil-smuggling activities in eastern Syria in October, revealing that the CIA, the Pentagon and private military contractors have been working with Kurdish militias and US-controlled companies to ship tens of millions of dollars' worth of Syrian oil out of the war-torn country every month.
In early May, Bloomberg reported that the Pentagon had decided two withdraw many of its batteries out of the Middle East due to the easing of US-Iran tensions, moving instead to shore up regional air defences. Asked to comment on the report, President Trump said he didn't "want to talk about it but we're doing some things" and "making a lot of moves, in the Middle East and elsewhere."
Amid demands by Iraq's parliament to end the US military presence in the country earlier this year, the US has moved to beef up its presence in Syria, with Syrian media reporting in early April that dozens of trucks carrying military equipment had been spotted crossing into al-Hasakah province from Iraq. The equipment's final destination was not revealed. Iraqi lawmakers asked Washington to withdraw its forces in January, following the drone strike assassination of a senior Iranian general and the commander of a government-backed militia force at Baghdad's international airport.
* A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.
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