US under pressure as Russia, Syria step up efforts to counter occupying US troops: NYT

US troops occupying parts of northeastern Syria have come under increasing pressure as Russia and Syria step up their military presence in the region, according to the New York Times.

The US daily reported that American military and diplomatic officials have said that Russia has been intensifying patrol “run-ins” with US troops and that Russian helicopters are flying closer to US troops as part of an “intensifying pressure campaign”.

According to the report, a notable presence of Syrian and Russian drones and other aircraft in the region has also “eroded American air superiority” in the regions where US forces are present.

The report claimed that the Russian measures, alongside Syrian military presence, seek to “present a constant set of challenges” that will eventually make US military presence “more tenuous”.

The report quoted Vice Admiral Tim Szymanski, a Navy SEAL who is deputy head of the military’s Special Operations Command, saying that Russian and Damascus were effectively “pressing” US forces in northeast Syria.

Speaking with reporters last week, top American diplomat overseeing Syria issues James F. Jeffrey also said that run-ins and encounters with Russian and Syrian troops are “not daily occurrences but have been increasing in number and thus is troubling”.

Russian troops were formally invited to the Arab country by the Syrian government in 2015 and – alongside Iranian military advisers – allowed Damascus to gradually push back foreign-backed terrorists which had ravaged the country since 2011.

Washington, however, illegally deployed troops to the country on the pretext of fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorists.

Despite Daesh currently having no significant presence in the country, the Trump administration announced October last year that it was keeping hundreds of troops in northeastern Syria, where a large portion of Syria’s oilfields is situated.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly said that Washington seeks to profit off of Syria’s oil reserves.

“What I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly,” Trump said in October.

According to Washington’s 2012 budget proposal introduced earlier this week, the Trump administration seeks to allocate $200 million to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which currently control the oil fields in northeastern Syria.

Observers have noted that the sum may be related to oil-related transactions involving the US-backed SDF forces.

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