Following the withdrawal of US forces from northern Syria earlier this month, and the killing of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Saturday night, American forces in Syria apparently have a new mission: protect the oil.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said at a press conference on Monday that American mechanized forces have already deployed to protect oil fields in eastern Syria. The mission, on its surface, aims to keep these oil fields in the hands of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Washington’s former allies in the fight against IS.
The American troops, he said, will “respond with overwhelming military force against any group who threatens the safety of our forces there.” When asked whether the US would potentially respond with force against Russian or Syrian forces, Esper simply responded “yes.”
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