Syrian Democratic Forces Reap Benefit From Oil Money

Elias Hubbard
November 9, 2019

US troops tasked with protecting oil fields in northeastern Syria are helping ensure any profits flow to the mainly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, a key partner in the fight against the Islamic State terror group. "[It] is going to the SDF", said Jonathan Rath Hoffman, assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs, during a news conference today at the Pentagon.

"The revenue from this is not going to the US".

Hoffman said US efforts to secure oil fields in Syria serve two purposes.

"It's preventing ISIS from getting it", Hoffman said, while at the same time allowing the Kurds and the SDF to have control of it, as well.

Rear Admiral William Byrne, the vice director of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Thursday that the "steady withdrawal" from areas near Turkey was ongoing, and that most equipment had been moved.

"We're just not going to let that happen again", Byrne said.

Last year, Syria ranked 75th among oil-producing countries, according to the US Energy Information Administration, with a daily output of 28,000 barrels - a little less than the state of West Virginia. The expanded mission to secure Syria's oil posed questions as to whether the US military had the legal right to defend against attacks from Syrian, Russian, or other forces should they threaten the oil fields, according to the AP.

The withdrawal allowed Turkey to carry out a military operation against the Kurds, although Trump later said a "small number" of U.S. troops would stay to secure the oil.

Trump has defended his foreign policy reversal - actually, the latest in a series of foreign policy reversals - by saying he intends to keep troops on the ground to get Syrian 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.

Hoffman repeated his stance that the operations were a part of the effort to defeat terrorists and stopping "ISIS from obtaining the oil fields is an effort to prevent them from obtaining revenue so that they can fund their terrorist operations globally".

"I've always said that: 'Keep the oil.' We want to keep the oil". $45 million a month?

For weeks, USA officials have tried to downplay talk of potential profits as a driving force behind the Pentagon's force posture in northeast Syria, arguing the main concern has been Islamic State and its efforts to reestablish a caliphate.

After all, the presence of IS fighters and the threat they pose to United States national security is the justification for Washington's intervention on foreign soil against the will of the home government.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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