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The Truth Behind Syria’s Oil Tanker Attacks

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Syrian Kurd Oil Deals and Tanker Attacks

On Friday, Qatari and Turkish media were reporting that US-led coalition airstrikes took out three oil tankers in targeted airstrikes in eastern Syria, while Kurdish media invariably reported that the tankers were targeted with machine-gun fire and an anti-tank missile that made a direct hit on one ferry belonging to the regime. The oil was being transported from Syrian Kurdish territory (which the Turkish media refers to as territory “besieged by terrorist YPG/PKK”) to regime territory. The question to examine here isn’t whether the tankers came under fire by machine guns or missiles, but why the US-led coalition is now gunning for YPG (Syrian Kurd) targets.

The oil came from the Tanak fields near the Iraqi border. Indeed, the majority of Syria’s oil comes from territory controlled by the Syrian Kurds in Deir el-Zour, nominally under the YPG. All Turkish media describes the YPG as a “terrorist group”. They also play up these attacks exponentially, describing them as major airstrikes that create an image in the mind of huge tankers being blown up. Our intelligence on the ground suggests that one regime tanker was attacked with a missile over the weekend, while a convoy of YPG tankers were targeted with machine-gun fire in a less decisive attack.

US media do not report on these incidents, largely because the coalition does not issue any statements confirming them, but also because there seems to be some sort of intellectual embargo on anything that happens in Syria that doesn’t have to do with toxic gas, or that doesn’t have to do with carnage wrought by the regime itself.

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The wider game being played out on this venue is a proxy war that involves a multitude of regional players centered around the Iran-Russia “axis” and the US-Israeli (plus Saudi/UAE friends) “alliance”. This means that readers must navigate reports based on their origins. Turkish and Qatari media have their own agendas here. Turkey’s is to report anything that rallies opposition to the Kurds and any chance to portray them as “terrorists” in Syria, particularly as they have been a long-time ally of the US against Assad.

So, why would the US attack tankers on Syrian Kurdish-controlled territory? After all, this is the territory through which the US operates in Syria, and the Syrian Kurds (in the form of the YPG) are allies of the…

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