Esper Confirms That U.S. Troops Are in Syrian Oil Fields
Oct. 29, 2019 (EIRNS)—Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley explicitly confirmed, during a press briefing at the Pentagon yesterday, that U.S. troops are occupying the Deir Ezzor oil fields in eastern Syria. Esper claimed that the U.S. military intention remains unchanged, and that is to ensure the defeat of ISIS. “Additionally, the United States will retain control of oil fields in northeast Syria.... U.S. troops will remain positioned in this strategic area to deny ISIS access to those vital resources, and we will respond with overwhelming military force against any group that threatens the safety of our forces there,” Esper continued. “These oil fields also provide a critical source of funding for the SDF, which enables their ability to secure ISIS’ prison camps and conduct operations against ISIS, among other things.” The SDF, or Syrian Democratic Forces, that he was referring to is the U.S.-backed Kurdish-dominated militia. Esper confirmed that the new deployment is already underway, but didn’t give details as to its size and composition other than to say that it includes mechanized forces.
In response to the question of whether or not the U.S. presence was also meant to deny the oil fields to the Russian military and the Syrian government, Esper replied that “the short answer is yes, because in that case we want to make sure that SDF does have access to the resources in order to guard the prisons, in order to arm their own troops, in order to assist us with the Defeat-ISIS mission.”
The Russians, as is well known, are opposed to this U.S. action. “Doubtlessly, these oil fields must be under the control of the Syrian government, and we believe that it is the only solution,” Alexander Lavrentiev, the Russian special envoy for Syria, told reporters this morning.
Britain’s daily Guardian reported that “The change of mind” about keeping troops in Syria “reportedly came after Pentagon officials persuaded the President that it was essential to protect east Syrian oil resources.” Yesterday, President Donald Trump told a gathering of police chiefs in Chicago, “We’re keeping the oil.”