Middle East

White House may keep 500 troops in Syria: Report

The White House is planning to keep 500 US troops in parts of northeastern Syria to focus on guarding oil fields there and sending more battle tanks to protect them, according to a report.

The Wall Street Journal reported that US military officials presented the choices to the White House on Thursday.

This comes as President Donald Trump is reportedly expected to change his plan to withdraw all American troops from Syria and approve a new plan to keep a few hundred US troops in eastern Syria in order to help his Kurdish allies retain control of oil fields.

Trump indicated on Thursday his desire to protect these oil fields.

“We will NEVER let a reconstituted ISIS (Daesh) have those fields!” he tweeted.

These discussions are taking place as Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is in Brussels requesting other North Atlantic Treaty Organization members to speak out against Turkey’s offensive into Syria earlier this month, according to the Journal.

On Sunday the New York Times quoted a senior Trump administration official as saying Sunday that the president is leaning towards a new Pentagon plan to keep a contingent of Special Operations forces at a few bases in eastern Syria, some near the Iraqi border.

The plan would help Kurdish militants keep control of oil fields in the east and prevent Syrian government forces from reinstating control over territories occupied by foreign troops and their proxies.

The so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led group of militias backed by the US, has switched sides to join Syrian government forces after Trump announced the American withdrawal.

The new plan appears to be an attempt by the US to keep the Kurds away from the central government in Damascus and retain control over Syria’s oil fields.

In a major U-turn in US military policy, the White House announced on October 6 that the US would be withdrawing its forces from northeastern Syria, clearing the path for an expected Turkish incursion into the region.

Three days later, Turkey launched the offensive with the aim of purging the northern Syrian regions near its border of US-backed Kurdish militants, whom it views as terrorists linked to local autonomy-seeking militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

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