A Syrian petroleum company delivered fuel products imported from Europe through Turkey into areas of Idlib province controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).
Watad Petroleum is a fuel products company operating in Idlib that was founded in 2017. Idlib is one of the last opposition-held territories of Syria; clashes raged in early June between Russian-backed forces of Bashar al-Assad and militant groups. Millions have been trapped in the region and could flee after already being displaced from elsewhere in Syria, according to the United Nations. Parts of Idlib are administered by the Syrian Salvation Government, an opposition governing body controlled by HTS, which was sanctioned in May 2018 as an alias of al-Qaida’s Jabhat Fatah al-Sham.
Through the Syrian Salvation Government, HTS has generated revenue by charging residents for electricity and water, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Oil traders and activists cited in Syrian opposition media claim that Watad Petroleum is a part of HTS’ efforts to monopolize the oil trade in areas controlled by the Syrian Salvation Government.
Opposition sources told the Lebanese Al-Modon outlet in January that Watad Petroleum was also selling and exporting its products to the Syrian government, which is facing a fuel crisis due in part to sanctions against Iran and Syria.
Watad Petroleum signed two Memorandums of Understanding with the Syrian Salvation Government in March 2018, allowing the company to sell and distribute gas cylinders in areas it controls. Under the agreements, Watad Petroleum is also required to provide fuel to hospitals overseen by the Syrian Salvation Government’s health ministry.
The company posted a video on its YouTube channel a month after striking the deals showing its trucks delivering gas cylinders to the “main centers” of the Syrian Salvation Government.