ANKARA (Dispatches) – U.S. claims about Syria's oil fields are absolutely illegitimate and have no basis in international law, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says.
"They [the U.S.] acknowledge and openly state that they are present there [in Syria] because of oil fields. No one has a right to Syrian resources. They came here, travelling across thousands of kilometers, and said 'We will evaluate the oil fields of this country'. This contradicts the norms of international law," Cavusoglu said, his remarks quoted by the A Haber TV channel.
In recent weeks, U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly stated that the U.S. would be "keeping the oil" of Syria, with Pentagon Chief Mark Esper confirming that the U.S. mission in Syria will now be to prevent the country's oil stocks from falling into the hands of either terrorists or the Damascus government.
The statements were made as the U.S. had pulled troops out of areas of northern Syria, including near sensitive areas between Kurdish-controlled areas and the Turkish border, shortly before Turkey began an incursion into northern Syria.
Trump's remarks on oil have led to criticism, both in the U.S. and abroad, about how Washington's policy may violate international laws against pillaging, with Syrian President Bashar Assad recently praising Trump for at least being straightforward about the "criminal" nature of U.S. policy against his country.
The Russian foreign ministry along with Iran have condemned the U.S. seizure of Syria's oil, stressing that this resource belongs to the Syrian people and that Damascus should be in control of its own national wealth.
This week, anonymous U.S. officials told AP that up to 800 U.S. troops may be kept in Syria to 'protect' oil fields in Syria's northeast, including in the oil and gas-rich province of Dayr al-Zawr. Later, amid criticism of U.S. policy, a Pentagon spokesman told reporters that the revenues from Syrian oil under U.S. control would go to its Syrian Kurdish allies.