Sunday, October 27, 2019

U.S. Sends Forces to Protect Syrian Oil Fields

Photo: rodi said/Reuters
The move marks a shift from President Trump’s decision to pull most troops from the country
The U.S. military sent fresh forces on Saturday to secure oil fields in eastern Syria, two U.S. officials said, as part of a pivot from a decision earlier this month to pull most American troops out of the country.
The movement of troops back into Syrian positions reflects a desire by Washington to preserve some leverage in the region, as Russian and Syrian forces have also moved in, filling a vacuum in areas once under U.S. influence.
Footage of a U.S. military convoy entering Syria from Iraq was released by the Iraqi Kurdish channel Rudaw. Residents of northeastern Syria also posted videos online showing a column of armored vehicles flying the American flag, said to have just crossed into the country from Iraq.
There were no tanks pictured in the images, which couldn’t be independently verified.
“We have begun reinforcing our positions in the Deir Ezzour region, in coordination with our SDF partners, with additional military assets to prevent the oil fields from falling back into the hands of ISIS or other destabilizing actors,” said a U.S. defense official, referring to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.
The official declined to specify how many troops were involved or provide other details, citing operational security.
Just days earlier, the U.S. military began a haphazard retreat from northeastern Syria after President Trump abruptly ordered the majority of the 1,000 U.S. soldiers in Syria to leave the country.
The American withdrawal cleared the way for a Turkish military operation against the Kurdish militants who had partnered with the U.S. in the fight against Islamic State, triggering sharp criticism from U.S. allies.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed on Friday that the U.S. planned to send soldiers and armored vehicles back into Syria to guard the Kurdish-held oil fields.
If it continues, the U.S. deployment near the oil facilities would mark a significant shift in the aims of the American military presence in Syria, changing from a mission aimed at stamping out the remnants of Islamic State to one guarding petroleum facilities against Islamic State and other opponents.
Read the rest from the WSJ HERE.

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