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Turkey slams US-approved oil deal with Syrian Kurds

Ankara considers the Syrian Democratic Forces to be a terrorist group [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 August, 2020

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Turkey has criticised an oil deal between a US firm and Kurdish-led authorities in northeast Syria.
Turkey has slammed a Washington-approved oil deal between a US firm and Syrian-Kurdish authorities as "theft", according to a statement by the foreign ministry.

American company Delta Crescent Energy LLC has secured a contract with Kurdish-led authorities in northeast Syria to develop and export crude oil from the region under a deal approved by the US government, according to news reports.

Under the deal, the region's oil will be refined and used locally, as well as exported via northern Iraq and Turkey, POLITICO reported, citing people familiar with the project.

Ankara condemned Kurdish authorities as attempting to advance their "separatist agenda by seizing the natural resources of the Syrian people", as well as NATO ally the US for its role in the deal.

"We deeply regret the US support to this step, disregarding international law, violating territorial integrity, unity and the sovereignety of Syria, as well as being considered within the scope of financing terrorism," the foreign ministry's statement said.

"This act, which cannot be justified by any legitimate motive, is utterly unacceptable."

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led paramilitary alliance that backs a semi-autonomous administration in northeastern Syria and controls the country's biggest oilfields.

Ankara considers the SDF to be a terrorist group linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Kurdish militant group present in Turkey and Iraq.

The Syrian regime's foreign ministry has also previously criticised the deal as an "affront to national sovereignty" and "an agreement between... thieves who steal and thieves who buy".

The US and the SDF have long been allies in fighting the Islamic State group amid Syria's ongoing conflict.

Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed Washington's support of the deal after being questioned about it by Senator Lindsay Graham during a Thursday Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

"The deal took a little longer, senator, than we had hoped, and now we’re in implementation," Pompeo said during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Thursday. "It can be very powerful."

The deal has been in talks with Syria's Kurdish authorities for over a year, but only received a license to proceed from the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control in April, POLITICO reported.

Syria's oil market, once the source of 20 percent of government revenues, was crippled by US sanctions, resulting in the war-torn country suffering severe fuel shortages.

The US has continued slapping sanctions on Syria, the latest being against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's teenage son Hafez.

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