The US must stop “stealing” oil from the Syrian people, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Tuesday, after meeting with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts in Tehran.
The three guarantors of the Astana Process also agreed that the US should leave illegally held land in the trans-Euphrates region, and cease making the humanitarian crisis in Syria worse with unilateral sanctions.
“[The US has to] stop robbing the Syrian state, the Syrian people, exporting oil illegally,” Putin told reporters on Tuesday evening. He said this is the “common position” of Russia, Iran, and Turkey.
Several hundred US troops are illegally present in Syria, mainly controlling the oil wells and wheat fields in the country’s northeast, controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia since the defeat of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). The US-backed SDF has refused to reintegrate with the government in Damascus, which Washington wishes to see overthrown.
Since 2019, the US has sought to punish anyone trying to assist the reconstruction of war-torn Syria via the ‘Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act’, accusing the government of President Bashar Assad of war crimes and blocking all assistance to Damascus.
Putin said on Tuesday that such sanctions have had “disastrous results” and that humanitarian aid to Syria “should not be politicized.”
During Tuesday’s summit in Tehran, Putin met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In a joint declaration, the three presidents confirmed their conviction that “there can be no military solution to the Syrian conflict,” only a political solution under the leadership of the UN. They also condemned the “unilateral sanctions violating international law,” which are exacerbating the humanitarian situation in Syria, urging the UN and other international organizations to “increase assistance to all Syrians, without discrimination, politicization and preconditions.”
Russia sent an expeditionary force to Syria in September 2015 at the request of Damascus, to help defeat IS and other terrorist groups. In January 2017, Moscow, Ankara, and Tehran launched the Astana Process – named after the capital of Kazakhstan – to resolve the conflict in Syria, which began in 2011.