A new CNBC report finds, "Tanker-tracking firms believe Iran is once again shipping crude oil to Syria, resuming the illicit trade as tensions with Washington rise and the Islamic Republic faces increasing international isolation." Specifically a one million barrel delivery was reportedly made through the Syrian port of Baniyas in early May, the first since the end of 2018, according to TankerTrackers.com and ClipperData.
Washington has in recent months ramped up targeted sanctions against Syrian oil imports, causing the worse fuel crisis in Syria's modern history, resulting in a "lifeless" and "decimated economy" with cars lined up for miles, sometimes waiting for days for a simple gas fill-up, as one Bloomberg on the ground report recently described.
Ironically even after seven years of massive bloodshed, as the government has emerged victorious, it is only now with relative stability and ensuing calm over most of the country that an "economic siege" has hit the population with full force.
Damascus even during some of the worst years of war was always a bustling traffic-packed economic center for its six million inhabitants, but as we noted previously the country has been plunged into a fuel crisis that is the result of new US-led oil sanctions targeting Damascus and Tehran. As one recent WSJ report put it, Iranian oil deliveries to Syria have "fallen off a cliff" since January.