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U.S. Bolstering Troops Guarding Syrian Oil Fields

Jeff Seldin – Voice of America

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The United States will bolster its forces at present guarding oil fields and facilities in eastern Syria from the Islamic State terror group, even as most of its troops are getting pulled from the nation.

“We are now taking some actions I’m not going to get into the information, to strengthen our position at Deir el-Zour, to assure we can deny ISIS access to the oil fields,” U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters Friday, working with an acronym for the group. He spoke following a series of meetings with NATO allies in Brussels.

“We want to make certain that they do not have access to the sources that might permit them to strike inside the area, to strike Europe, to strike the United States,” he mentioned. “It will contain some mechanized forces.”

The U.S. had been maintaining about 1,000 particular forces in northeastern Syria, operating extensively with the primarily Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, as component of the U.S.-led work to deal a lasting defeat to IS.

Considering the fact that the liberation of the final scrap of IS-held territory in March, the U.S. and SDF had focused on clearing out remaining IS sleeper cells and on stopping an insurgency but, earlier this month, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. forces just ahead of an incursion by Turkey aimed at clearing the border area of Kurdish fighters, whom Ankara views as terrorists.

“Our soldiers have left and are leaving Syria for other areas, then…COMING Residence!” Trump mentioned in a series of tweets Friday, barely half an hour ahead of Esper spoke.

“When these pundit fools who have known as the Middle East incorrect for 20 years ask what we are receiving out of the deal, I merely say, THE OIL, AND WE ARE BRINGING OUR SOLDIERS BACK Residence, ISIS SECURED!”

Mixed Messaging

The statements Friday reflect the mixed messaging on U.S. intentions relating to Syria that has been coming from Washington this week.

On Wednesday, when hailing the accomplishment of a U.S.-brokered deal to quit the fighting in between Turkey, a NATO ally, and the Kurdish forces which had been aiding the U.S. in the fight against IS, Trump mentioned that the U.S. was “getting out.”

“Let somebody else fight more than this extended bloodstained sand,” he mentioned, adding later that the U.S. would safe the oil fields ahead of “deciding what we are going to do with it in the future.”

In a series of tweets Thursday, Trump emphasized the significance he placed on the oil fields.

“We will In no way let a reconstituted ISIS have these fields!” Trump tweeted, adding, “Perhaps it is time for the Kurds to commence heading to the Oil Area!”

A U.S. defense official late Thursday confirmed the U.S. was operating to reinforce the position of U.S. troops nevertheless in Syria and was performing so “in coordination with our SDF [Syrian Democratic Force] partners, in northeast Syria.”

Several Kurdish leaders have criticized the U.S., some accusing Washington of betraying them by enabling Turkish forces to move against them. But in spite of the challenging feelings, SDF Commander Gen. Mazloum Abdi has indicated he is open to continuing to function with the U.S. and U.S. forces in the area.

Asked about the U.S. method in Syria, Esper told reporters Friday it has been constant.

“It’s generally been about defeating the ISIS coalition,” he mentioned. “The precise measures we are taking with regard to the reduction of oilfields is to deny ISIS access to these sources.”

The defense secretary went on to say, “If ISIS has access to the sources and consequently the signifies to procure arms or to acquire fighters or what ever else they do then that signifies it tends to make it additional tough to defeat ISIS.”

Islamic State took handle of the eastern Syrian oil fields in 2014 and held on to them till the U.S.-led coalition captured them in 2016.  In the interim, analysts estimate the terror group pocketed a total of about  $750 million from sales.

Officials and analysts doubt IS, which has been reorganizing itself as an insurgency, would attempt to grab handle of the fields but, they say it could obtain other techniques to use them to their benefit.

Will IS Resurge?

There have been issues that the Turkish military incursion into northeastern Syria has helped strengthen IS by providing some of the terror group’s captured fighters a possibility to escape from a series of additional than 30 makeshift prisons guarded by the SDF.

Esper mentioned each the SDF and Turkish officials have assured him the IS prisoners are below lock and crucial, and that Turkey has been hunting down these who managed to get cost-free.

“They’ve been in a position to recollect some of them,” Esper mentioned.

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