Oil Prices Remain Positive Amid US Air Strikes In Iraq, Syria

Oil prices held on to their record gains on Monday even as the U.S. air strikes in Iraq and Syria on Sunday increased political tensions in the Middle East.

Benzinga · 12/30/2019 11:07

Oil prices held on to their record gains on Monday even as the U.S. air strikes in Iraq and Syria on Sunday increased political tensions in the Middle East.

What Happened

The U.S. forces carried five "defensive strikes " at bases controlled by Iran-backed Shia militia Kata'ib Hezbollah in Iraq and Syria on Sunday, the Pentagon announced in a statement.

The Pentagon said that the air strikes took place in response to the repeated attacks carried out by the paramilitary group on the U.S. and coalition forces, the latest of them having killed a U.S. civilian in the region.

"We will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said after briefing President Trump on the strikes, as reported by Reuters.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said that President Trump had been informed that further military actions could be required.

"[We] will take additional actions as necessary to ensure that we act in our own self-defense and we deter further bad behavior from militia groups or from Iran," Esper said, according to Reuters.

Iraq, Iran, Lebanon Criticize US Strike

Iraq's Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi was informed of the strikes only 30 minutes ahead, Abdelkarim Khalaf, an Iraqi Armed Forces spokesperson, said, as reported by CNN.

Khalaf said that the U.S. acted unilaterally and that "these strikes represent a treacherous stab in the back."

In separate statements on Monday, the government of Iran, and Lebanon's Hezbollah party, which is part of the ruling alliance, criticized the U.S. action.

"U.S. military aggression against Iraqi soil and Iraqi forces is strongly condemned as a clear example of terrorism ... and Iran strongly condemns it," Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a statement, translated by Reuters.

Price Action

The oil prices endured the political turmoil. Brent crude futures were up 0.10% at $66.94 at press time. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 4 cents at $61.76.