The US is planning to deploy fresh troops and battle tanks to Syria’s northeastern oil fileds, Newsweek reported on October 23, citing an official in the Pentagon.
The unnamed official told the magazine that the US is seeking to deploy a half of an US Army armored brigade combat team battalion that includes as many as 30 Abrams tanks alongside personnel to key oil fields in northeastern Syria. According to the official, the plan is pending White House approval.
Northeastern Syria oil fields, including al-Rmelan and al-Omar, are controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The official said that these forces will continue to be involved in securing these oil fields, the official said.
President Donald Trump had announced that the U.S. is going on with its plan to withdraw troops from northeast Syria. However, he said that oil fields in the region and the area of al-Tanaf in the southeastern part of the country will be kept under control as for now.
When asked by Newsweek about the oil situation, one senior administration official said that the final fate of these resources was yet to be determined.
“The President has stated that we are going to have a residual force in the region to protect areas that hold the oil fields, as well as the base down at al-Tanaf, in southern Syria. Those are important areas to allow us to constrain the resurgence of ISIS. And there is some artillery benefit, of course, to Kurds and other Democratic Forces being in control of the oil,” the official said. “As far as how the oil will be sold and that sort of thing, that’s something that we’ll certainly look into and we’ll monitor going forward. And we’ll keep a close eye on that.”
The Pentagon has not commented on Newsweek’s report, so far. If approved, the deployment of such a large force would contradict the withdrawal process.
By keeping oil fields under control, Washington is clearly working to prevent the Damascus government, which is engaged in a deal with the SDF, from recapturing vital resources.