Customs barriers of Autonomous Administration pursue fuel smuggling

Oil spills inside al-Subha water station east of Deir Ezzor province due to smuggling operations in the area - July 11, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Obadah al-Sheikh)

Oil spills inside al-Subha water station east of Deir Ezzor province due to smuggling operations in the area - July 11, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Obadah al-Sheikh)


The Customs Directorate of the Autonomous Administration in rural Deir Ezzor has confiscated dozens of vehicles loaded with fuel on charges of smuggling.

The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) has deployed several military barriers belonging to the Customs Directorate, starting from the town of al-Azbah in the northern Deir Ezzor countryside reaching to the town of al-Jazrat in the west of the province.

Since the beginning of February, the phenomenon of fuel trade between the countrysides of Deir Ezzor, which are under AANES control, has increased, due to a drop in prices by about 350,000 Syrian pounds per barrel in the east of the province, compared to its price in the west.

Farmer Awad al-Khader needs fuel to operate a water pump engine on his land located in the town of Ruwaishid, north of Deir Ezzor. He told Enab Baladi that he has a license from the Directorate of Agriculture in the Autonomous Administration that allows him to transport diesel fuel from any place in Deir Ezzor to his land, but the authorities confiscated his vehicle without regarding the license he holds.

The farmer added that a customs patrol confiscated his car and demanded him to pay $500 to get it back, pointing out that dozens of vehicles are confiscated inside the Directorate building, some loaded with goods and vegetables, and many of them are locally made and claimed to be used for trading purposes.

Trading for the purpose of smuggling

Alaa, a resident of the western Deir Ezzor countryside, runs a line for smuggling fuel in the town of Muheimida towards regime-controlled areas, told Enab Baladi that the process of transferring small quantities of fuels daily has become common and frequent in the area due to the price difference; nevertheless, the Customs Directorate has spread its patrols to control smuggling operations.

Alaa buys fuel with the intention of accumulating it and then smuggling it towards regime-controlled areas on the western bank of the Euphrates River.

The transfer operations of fuels between the countryside of Deir Ezzor are a source of livelihood for many families in the area.

Meanwhile, the customs imposed a fine of $500 on the owners of the confiscated vehicles, on charges of transporting diesel to the western countryside for the purpose of smuggling it to regime-controlled areas.

Alaa pointed out that the price of a diesel barrel in the towns of Taiyana and Theban does not exceed 800,000 Syrian pounds ($54), while its price exceeds a million pounds in the western countryside areas, according to the smuggler.

AANES combats smuggling

An employee in AANES’ Customs Directorate, who withheld his name due to not being authorized to speak to the media, told Enab Baladi that the Autonomous Administration has spread customs patrols along the roads in the eastern and western countrysides of Deir Ezzor after arresting individuals who were carrying forged agricultural licenses for the purpose of smuggling fuel.

For years now, the operations of smuggling fuel and goods from areas under the control of AANES toward regime-controlled areas west of the Euphrates River have been active and considered a principal source of income for many of the region’s residents.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) raid some water crossings in attempts to control smuggling operations in the towns of Muheimida, Hawayij Thiban, and Hawayij al-Boumasaa, in western Deir Ezzor countryside, in addition to other crossings east of the province.

These crossings are considered the veins from which the regime revitalizes its markets in the province, especially those related to fuels, and all of these crossings have been in operation since the SDF and the regime took control of Deir Ezzor province, after battles against the Islamic State organization at the end of 2017.

The importance and nature of these crossings vary; some are specialized in transferring civilians between the two riverbanks with small boats, each carrying a few people, and some include large ferries that carry vehicles on their backs; these are used in the transfer of goods and fuels between the banks.



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