Oct 26, 2019

U.S. troops move to eastern Syria to execute oil field protection plan

A Turkey-backed Syrian fighter looks on from a fortified position near the village of Awshariyah overlooking the Euphrates river, south of Jarabulus in the northern part of Aleppo province on Oct. 26. Photo: AAREF WATAD/Getty Images

The U.S. military has reportedly started to send troops to eastern Syria in accordance with orders from President Trump, who seeks to protect oil fields in the region, per U.S. defense officials cited by the Washington Post.

Why it matters: "U.S. officials have said that the new mission around the oil fields there will prevent the Islamic State from capturing them, but also allow the Pentagon to continue carrying out counterterrorism operations on the militant group and maintain control of the airspace overhead," the Post writes.

The state of play: The new plan calls for several hundred U.S. troops to return to Syria, but less than 1,000 in total, American officials noted. The forces will back up U.S. troops in coordination with Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

  • Additional details and timelines will not be released for security purposes.

The big picture: This is only the latest move in a chaotic month for the Pentagon in Syria, beginning Oct. 9 when the Turkish Air Force launched airstrikes on border towns.

  • Trump then decided to withdraw nearly American troops from northern Syria, where the United States had been supporting its Kurdish allies, after the SDF came to an agreement with the Syrian regime.

As Axios' Dave Lawler recently noted: Trump said he “never agreed to protect the Kurds for the rest of their lives." Instead, the president said the U.S. would keep small detachments in Syria at the request of Israel and Jordan and to “protect the oil," but there was otherwise "no reason" to remain.

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