A US helicopter operation in northeast Syria has killed one person, Syrian television reported. Without Damascus’ agreement, the United States carried out operations in the country and were notably accused of stealing hydrocarbons.
Several US army helicopters carried out an operation in northeastern Syria, killing one person, Syrian public television announced on October 6.
This is the first helicopter operation by US troops in a government-held area since the start of the war in Syria in 2011.
The operation carried out overnight by the “American occupier” took place in an area near the Kurdish town of Qamichli, said the same source.
Asked by AFP, the American command for the Middle East (Centcom) indicated that it had no immediate information to communicate on this subject.
According to a village resident contacted by the news agency, “three American helicopters carrying troops landed at dawn and called on loudspeakers for residents to stay at home”. He added that US forces had “searched a house and killed one person”, before “abducting” two other people who were in the same house.
An exchange of fire opposed the American soldiers to a proxy force of the Damascus government in the village, added this witness, according to whom a member of this force was also kidnapped. On June 16, the American army announced that it had captured a leader of the Daesh group during a helicopter operation in a village in northern Syria beyond the control of the forces of Damascus.
An illegal presence
Despite announcements of military withdrawal, the United States still has ground troops in Syria. There would still be about 900 soldiers on the spot, mainly present east of the Euphrates in the part not controlled by Damascus. Washington maintains this presence on the Syrian ground officially to provide logistical and military aid to its Kurdish allies present in the area, but this presence would deter the Syrian army from seizing the oil wells.
This semi-desert region east of the Euphrates is rich in hydrocarbons. On August 21, the official Syrian news agency Sana reported that “the American occupation forces had transported […] a convoy of 137 tankers loaded with oil stolen from Syrian fields, in complicity with the militia of the [Forces armées syriennes]to their bases in Iraqi territories, via the illegal passage of Mahmoudiya in the suburb of Yaaroubiyah”.
Moreover, this American presence makes it possible to limit Iranian activities in the area. US strikes last August killed four pro-Iranian fighters, according to Washington. The United States also has a base, al-Tanf, in southern Syria near the Iraqi and Jordanian borders. It has long allowed Washington to provide aid to the Syrian opposition, as noted by the NGO Crisis Group.
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