Up to 380,000 barrels of crude oil were previously produced by wells around the city of Raqqa and in the desert region to its east that are now in rebel hands - in particular Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda off-shoot which is the strongest faction in this part of the country.
Now the violently anti-Western jihadist group, which has been steadily extending its control in the region, is selling the crude oil to local entrepreneurs, who use home-made refineries to produce low-grade petrol and other fuels for Syrians facing acute shortages.
The Obama administration denounced Russia on Friday for providing Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime with anti-ship missiles, saying the weapons would only worsen a war that Washington and Moscow have been promising to work together on stopping.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, criticized what he called an "unfortunate decision that will embolden the regime and prolong the suffering." He spoke at a news conference after the New York Times reported that Russia recently delivered an advanced version of Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles to Syria.
"It's ill-timed and very unfortunate," Dempsey said.
WASHINGTON: Russia has sent advanced anti-ship cruise missiles to Syria, a move that illustrates the depth of its support for the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad, American officials said on Thursday.
Russia has previously provided a version of the missiles, called Yakhonts, to Syria. However, those delivered recently are outfitted with an advanced radar that makes them more effective, according to American officials who are familiar with classified intelligence reports and would only discuss the shipment on the basis of anonymity.
Unlike Scud and other longer-range surface-to-surface missiles that the Assad government has used against opposition forces, the Yakhont anti-ship missile system provides the Syrian military a formidable weapon to counter any effort by international forces to reinforce Syrian opposition fighters by imposing a naval embargo, establishing a no-fly zone or carrying out limited airstrikes.
"It enables the regime to deter foreign forces looking to supply the opposition from the sea, or from undertaking a more active role if a no-fly zone or shipping embargo were to be declared at some point," said Nick Brown, editor in chief of IHS Jane's International Defense Review. "It's a real ship killer."
U.S. officials tell The Wall Street Journal: Another round of Israeli airstrikes could target a new Russian transfer of Yakhont advanced anti-ship missiles in the near future • Russia moving more quickly than previously thought to deliver S-300 surface-to-air defense systems to Syria • CIA Director John Brennan in Israel to coordinate policy.
Deployment presumably a warning to Israeli and Western officials regarding military intervention against Assad
In a move considered aggressive by US and European officials, Russia has sent at least 12 warships to patrol waters near its naval base in Tartous, Syria.
Russia’s increased presence in the region — which began raising eyebrows in the US three months ago — represents one of its largest sustained naval deployments since the Cold War, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
“It’s a show of force. It’s muscle flexing,” a top US official told the Journal.
US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro Visits Amphibious Assault Ship USS Kearsarge in Eilat
Visiting Washington, Turkish prime minister slams Netanyahu government for oppposing Palestinian state, calls on Israel to ‘retreat to 1967 lines’
Without an internal Palestinian reunification deal, there is little chance Israeli-Palestinian peace talks can lead anywhere, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday during a visit to the US.
Speaking to reporters at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, Erdogan said, “There will be no negotiations without Hamas, therefore Fatah must cooperate with it.”
Obama under judgment? – Five of his recent 'sin proclamations, endorsements and actions' corresponded with three major crises …. Chronology of Obama's activities and corresponding events ... Could this be the beginning of much more? .... John Kerry betting on the wrong horses … Russia- Israel tension worsening ... Iran’s plans to take over Syria …Iran agents training to storm Israel's border… Russia sending top air-defense system to Assad … Analysis of Russia’s S-300 system … Intervention in Syria: Three things to know .... Ground-based laser systems against rockets ..... Watch out for Petraeus in Benghazi scandal .... Tolerating totalitarianism
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