LONDON Ñ The United States has halted the flow of Iraqi oil to
Western intelligence sources said U.S.-led coalition forces shut off the
oil pump outside the northern city of Kirkuk on Tuesday. The Kirkuk facility
was pumping about 250,000 barrels of oil via a pipeline to the Syrian port
of Banyas, Middle East Newsline reported.
"It's a major move by the United States and will have a significant
affect on Syria," a senior intelligence source said. "The Syrians are very
Intelligence sources said Iraqi oil pumped to Syria over the last two
years had been a major source of revenue for the regime of President Bashar
Assad. Iraq had sold the oil to Syria for about $11 a barrel and the Assad
regime exported the fuel at market prices and kept the difference.
Last week, U.S. sources told the Kuwaiti Al Rai Al Aam daily that
coalition forces stopped the flow of oil by bombing the pipeline. But
Western intelligence sources dismissed the report and said the pipeline was
continuing to operate.
The United States did not announce the shutting down of the pipeline.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said he could not provide any
"Don't know what its current status is," Boucher said. "Yes. I just have
to leave it at that."
Officials said U.S. and coalition forces captured Kirkuk on Friday. Maj.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, vice director for operations at the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, said elements of the 173rd Airborne Brigade encountered what he
termed minimal resistance during its entry into Kirkuk. He described the
situation in the city as fluid.