US forces occupying a natural gas field in northeast Syria have shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that the Pentagon claims was an Iranian-made drone conducting reconnaissance of an American military base.
The drone was brought down on Tuesday afternoon over the Conoco gas field, home of Syria’s largest gas-processing plant, according to a statement by US Central Command (CENTCOM). American troops have illegally occupied a large swath of Syria, containing most of the war-torn country’s oil and gas resources, since seizing the territory from Islamic State terrorists in 2017.
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CENTCOM did not specify how it identified the drone as Iranian-made. The US has hundreds of troops deployed in Syria, purportedly on a counterterrorism mission. The deployment, however, violates Syria’s sovereignty, as Damascus has never given its approval for US troops to enter the country and has repeatedly demanded that they leave.
The Conoco field is named after ConocoPhillips, the US energy company that developed and operated the concession until 2005. The Conoco gas plant can reportedly produce nearly 50 million cubic feet of gas per day.
US forces at the Conoco field and al-Omar, Syria’s largest oil field, have repeatedly come under attacks over the years. Last month, the US base at Conoco was reportedly targeted by rocket fire.
The latest incident comes as Syria tries to dig out from the massive earthquakes that struck southern Türkiye and western Syria on February 6. More than 41,000 people were killed by the quakes, including over 1,400 deaths confirmed by the authorities in Damascus, and another 4,400 reported deaths in territories under control of the Western-backed rebels. US sanctions have hindered efforts to send remittances to Syria, despite Washington’s decision last week to temporarily exempt earthquake aid from its measures.
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The occupation and sanctions have given the US a “death grip” on the beleaguered Syrian economy, dooming the country’s people to poverty and hunger, according to the Cato Institute, a Washington DC think tank. Syrian President Bashar Assad’s political and media adviser, Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, speaking with Afshin Rattansi on RT’s Going Underground last week, accused the West of hypocrisy in claiming humanitarian concerns while imposing collective punishment on Syrians.