Tough questions: USA military ops in Syria getting complicated for Washington

U.S. military convoy drives near the town of Qamishli north Syria Saturday Oct. 26. 2019

U.S. military convoy drives near the town of Qamishli north Syria Saturday Oct. 26. 2019

The Pentagon said Thursday the United States is not profiting from Syrian oil, despite the deployment of troops to protect oil fields in the country's east.

"The revenue from this is not going to the US. This is going to the SDF", Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said, using an acronym for the Kurdish-led, US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces.

The Defense Department Thursday acknowledged that the increasingly complex battlefield in northeastern Syria has been a factor and one of the reasons commanders chose to reinforce troops near the oil fields with armored vehicles. "This is going to the SDF", Hoffman said, referring to the Kurdish-led. "So it's preventing ISIS (from getting) it, allowing the Kurds and the SDF in there to have control of it as well".

Speaking about the withdrawal at a gathering of police chiefs last week, he repeated that he didn't want the USA policing the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds.

Byrne said the SDF was still joined with the the fight against ISIS remnants and "security of the oil fields is a subordinate task to that mission".

"I'm not sure ISIS is going away yet", Rear Admiral William Byrne, the vice director of the joint chiefs of staff, said Thursday.

At a Pentagon briefing, Hoffman and Rear Adm. William Byrne, vice director of the Pentagon's Joint Staff, said US troops, now including mechanized forces sent back into Syria, were guarding wells near the Iraqi border in cooperation with the SDF.

Mr Trump acknowledged last month that he changed into as soon as pulling all USA troops out of Syria excluding for a shrimp residual power to find oil fields in the east of the nation.

On Thursday, the Pentagon's top spokesperson told reporters in no uncertain terms that the United States would not be keeping any of the revenue from those oil fields.

Later Hoffman was asked by a reporter if "President Trump [has] legal authority to take over these oil fields or is the United States stealing the oil?"

It's a tough dynamic to defend - it's illegal for a country to send troops into another country to take its natural resources - but the president continues to echo his message, boasting at recent campaign rallies about "keeping" Syrian oil. "And the objective of that task is to deny ISIS the revenues from that oil infrastructure", Byrne said. "Keep the oil. We've secured the oil". But the Trump administration first said a small number of troops would return to 'protect the oil, ' in an area hundreds of miles from where CBS News saw them.

Some former officials and analysts have questioned the extent of the threat IS now poses to the oil fields, arguing the larger danger comes from Syrian government forces, Russian Federation and even Turkey.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk.

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