Twenty Saudi soldiers arrived this week at a U.S. military base close to an oilfield in northeastern Syria, according to Iranian media, which cite a report from a Lebanon-based Arabic-language TV channel.
At the end of last year, Saudi troops were also reportedly stationed near Syria’s largest oilfield, Al-Omar in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region, in what was thought to be Saudi protection for experts of Saudi oil giant Saudi Aramco. According to the report of the Arabic service of Turkish news agency Anadolu at the time, the arrival of the Saudi soldiers at Syria’s biggest oilfield coincided with the arrival of around 30 trucks carrying drilling and digging machinery.
Incidents and altercations between the superpowers backing different sides in the Syrian conflict continue. Just this week, U.S. soldiers were injured in a skirmish with Russian troops, two U.S. officials told The New York Times, noting that the injuries were the result of a collision between vehicles, not gunfire.
After a surprise announcement of pulling the U.S. troops out of Syria in October last year, U.S. President Donald Trump said that the United States would protect Syrian oil fields from ISIS.
President Trump claimed that the U.S. had taken control of the oil in the Middle East, tweeting that “The U.S. has secured the Oil, & the ISIS Fighters are double secured by Kurds & Turkey.”
The President did not elaborate on what he meant by “securing the oil,” but speculations about the President’s statement assume he was referring to the U.S. special forces that have been—and will continue to be—in control of oil and gas fields in Deir Ezzor, Syria’s oil region.
President Trump has vowed to protect Syrian oil fields from ISIS, and the United States may leave 500 troops in northeastern Syria and send in battle tanks and other equipment with the purpose to help the Kurds in the area to protect oil fields that used to be controlled by Islamic State during its so-called caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria.