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U.S. Maintaining Troops Close to Syrian Oil Fields

Ken Bredemeier – Voice of America

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The United States is maintaining some troops close to oil fields in northeastern Syria to defend them from getting captured by Islamic State, defense chief Mark Esper stated Monday.

A convoy of far more than 100 autos with U.S. troops crossed into Iraq from Syria on Monday, element of the broader withdrawal from northern Syria ordered by President Donald Trump. But Esper stated that some American forces have been nevertheless patrolling close to the oil fields alongside Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

The Pentagon leader stated no extended-term selection has been produced “with regard to numbers or something like that.”

“We presently have troops in a couple of cities that [are] positioned ideal close to that location. The goal is to deny access, especially income to ISIS and any other groups that could want to seek that income to allow their personal malign activities,” Esper stated.

Trump tweeted Sunday that “We have secured the oil.”

Brett McGurk, former U.S. envoy in the fight against Islamic State, told VOA on Monday that he finds it “troubling” that a president really should speak like that, calling the seizure of a further country’s assets “illegal.”

“It really is definitely not doable for us to exploit these oil sources unless we want to be oil smugglers,” McGurk stated. “Like it or not, it [the oil] is owned by the Syrian state.”

Trump’s troop withdrawal has angered Kurds in northern Syria, exactly where Kurdish fighters have fought alongside U.S. forces against Islamic State terrorists. But Trump stated the U.S. had no stake in Turkey’s offensive against the Kurdish fighters, which Ankara considers as allies with Kurdish separatists fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey for the final 3 decades.

On Monday, Trump told his Cabinet that the U.S. “by no means gave the Kurds a commitment we’d fight with them for 400 years” to defend them.

The U.S. final week brokered a 5-day cease-fire with Turkey in the area to give the Kurdish fighters a possibility to move away from the border exactly where Turkey desires to impose a 32-kilometer-wide “secure zone.”

Trump stated the cease-fire is largely holding, in spite of some skirmishes.

He stated the Kurdish fighters have been leaving the secure zone, “not expeditiously, but rather intelligently.”

Trump stated that “if Turkey misbehaves — I do not feel they will” — but if Ankara does, “we will tariff them, we will sanction them. But I do not want to do that.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated Monday that his offensive against the Kurdish fighters would resume if they have not pulled back from the Turkish border by the time the pause in the conflict ends Tuesday evening.

With Trump’s withdrawal of most U.S. troops, Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has stepped into the vacuum in northern Syria. Even although Turkey is a NATO ally of the U.S., Erdogan is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to plot their technique in Syria.

Erdogan, without having elaborating, told a forum in Istanbul on Monday, “We will take up this approach with Mr. Putin and soon after that we will take the needed measures” in northeastern Syria.

As U.S. armored autos drove out of Syria via the Kurdish-dominated northeastern city of Qamishli on Monday, residents hurled potatoes at the Americans, shouting in English, “No America,” and “America liar.”

Close to the town of Tal Tamr, protesters late Sunday raised banners against departing U.S. troops. One particular man blocked the path of a U.S. van with a poster reading: “Thanks for U.S. men and women, but Trump betrayed us.”

Trump has stated the troop withdrawal was needed for the U.S. to “finish endless wars” in the Middle East. The Pentagon is moving its Syrian contingent of far more than 700 U.S. troops to Iraq, not sending them “residence” as Trump had tweeted they would be. Esper stated the troops would aid defend Iraq and could nevertheless conduct antiterrorist raids in Syria on Islamic State insurgents.   

The U.S. presently has about five,000 troops in Iraq below an agreement in between Baghdad and Washington. The U.S. had pulled out in 2011 when combat operations ended there, but went back in 3 years later when Islamic State took more than significant components of the nation ahead of later losing what it had gained.

Whilst the Kurdish withdrawal from the border area is occurring, each Kurdish and Turkish leaders accused every single other of violating the cease-fire with scattered attacks.

The Kurds stated Turkey had shelled 1 village at dawn Monday and contended that the U.S. had not forced Ankara to adhere to the terms of the cease-fire. Turkey accused the Kurds of 30 reside-fire violations throughout the 4 days of the purported pause in hostilities, which includes an attack that killed 1 Turkish soldier.

VOA’s Jeff Seldin and Kenneth Schwartz contributed to this report.

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