US Has Plan to Send Part of an Armored Brigade to ‘Secure’ Syria Oil Fields Amid ‘Withdrawal’

The Pentagon is telling Trump if he's serious about stealing the oil to authorize sending in heavy tanks

The United States has drawn up a plan to send troops and tanks to guard Syria’s eastern oil fields amid a withdrawal from the country’s north, Newsweek has learned.

A senior Pentagon official told Newsweek Wednesday that the United States is seeking—pending White House approval—to deploy half of an Army armored brigade combat team battalion that includes as many as 30 Abrams tanks alongside personnel to eastern Syria, where lucrative oil fields are under the control of a mostly Kurdish force involved in the U.S.-led fight against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS). The Pentagon-backed militia, called the Syrian Democratic Forces and dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), will continue to be involved in securing these oil fields, the official said.

The news comes as other U.S. troops exited territories elsewhere under Syrian Democratic Forces control, where NATO ally Turkey sought to neutralize YPG influence using allied Syrian insurgents. The Turkish operation was halted, however, by a U.S. deal limiting the incursion to a roughly 20-mile “safe zone”—a move President Donald Trump credited with saving “thousands” as he fulfilled his desire to remove U.S. soldiers from the war-torn country at the same time.

The president did, however, suggest Wednesday he would keep troops in the small southwestern garrison of Al-Tanf, as well as across crucial oil fields once seized by Syrian insurgents and, later ISIS, before being claimed by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

“We’ve secured the oil and, therefore, a small number of U.S. troops will remain in the area, where they have the oil,” Trump said at the White House. “And we’re going to be protecting it, and we’ll be deciding what we’re going to do with it in the future.”

The U.S. initially joined Turkey in backing the rebels and jihadis trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but later switched its support to the Syrian Democratic Forces as defeating ISIS became a priority. With ISIS largely defeated and Assad empowered by Iran and Russia, the U.S. expanded its mission to limiting its adversaries’ influence in the country.

The official told Newsweek that the new tank deployment would have a combined purpose of keeping ISIS, as well as the Syrian government, Iran and their allied militias away from the eastern oil fields.

The U.S. has struggled, however, to reconcile differences between the Syrian Democratic Forces and Turkey, which views the YPG as a terrorist organization due to its alleged links to the banned separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). After two cross-border operations that beat back Kurdish influence in northern Syria in recent years, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened a third earlier this month and, after a call with Trump, mobilized troops and allied Syrian rebels to battle the YPG.

Trump chose to swiftly withdraw in a move that initially angered Kurdish fighters in the region and compelled them to strike a deal with the Syrian government in hopes of fending off the invasion. The U.S. condemned Turkey’s decision and struck a five-day ceasefire deal that was ultimately succeeded by a more comprehensive deal reached by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Erdogan on Tuesday.

Despite the U.S. pullout, Syrian Democratic Forces commander Mazloum Kobane offered thanks to Trump for his efforts in initially halting the Turkish-led advance and said he “promised to maintain partnership with SDF and long-term support at various spheres.”

Assad, while recently terming his partnership with Kurdish-led forces “a national duty,” has repeatedly dismissed any notions of separatism and the presence of uninvited international forces, vowing to retake all of Syria. Moscow shared this view and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told the RIA Novosti outlet Wednesday that all oil fields “should go under the control of the legitimate government.”

Previous reporting has suggested that the Syrian Democratic Forces have entered into arrangements to sell oil to the Syrian government. Asked about the oil situation during a White House press briefing Wednesday, one senior administration official echoed the president in saying that the final fate of these resources was yet to be determined.

“The President has stated that we are going to have a residual force in the region to protect areas that hold the oil fields, as well as the base down at Al-Tanf, in southern Syria. Those are important areas to allow us to constrain the resurgence of ISIS. And there is some artillery benefit, of course, to Kurds and other Democratic Forces being in control of the oil,” the official said.

“As far as how the oil will be sold and that sort of thing, that’s something that we’ll certainly look into and we’ll monitor going forward. And we’ll keep a close eye on that,” the official continued, adding that “the goal of the administration, the goal of the President—as he made very clear today—is to have all American troops out of Syria, and that’s something that we believe will ultimately happen.”

Contacted by Newsweek, the Pentagon referred to the following comments made Monday by Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

“We have troops in towns in…northeast Syria that are located next to the oil fields. The troops in those towns are not in the present phase of withdrawal,” Esper told a joint press conference at the Pentagon.

“This withdrawal [of U.S. forces] will take weeks, not days. Until that time, our forces will remain in the towns that are located near the oil fields. The purpose of those forces⁠—a purpose of those forces, working with the SDF, is to deny access to those oil fields by ISIS,” he added.

Source: Newsweek

  1. edwin says

    Here we go again. Guess possession is 9/10th the law. So we will have cheap oil for sale again and give the proceeds to all the people who lost everything because we wanted to take over the country.
    Another SSDD. This just happened to Cuba. Savin it for a rainy day? IT will all go to our supporting friends. If all this is true, than you must ask the question, “has anything really changed?”

  2. edwin says

    Pillage the oil!!! WE go into Iraq and pillage anything of value, including their oil. The sale of this oil would contribute to helping all the people caught in this unauthorized war. So do we really give a damn about rebuilding what we have destroyed? Now we have Syria and their oil. We pillage Syria, destroy the cities and unplant the people. Now we want to take the oil? We were never there legally to start with. Talk about human rights?
    Now we are into south america doing the same thing.
    If there is such a push for all this oil, it must not be true regarding the US being the biggest exporter of oil. Sounds like we are selling every one else’s oil. Now we have this, “one step at a time”. We have been one step at a time since 9/11. TIme to let other people live their lives without fear of their homes burning to the ground.

  3. Marvin Joel Zavala López says

    The Syrian war machine needs those oil fields.

  4. thomas malthaus says

    Gee whiz! Why keep Syria away from their oil fields unless the intent was for American companies to production drill and send unrefined crude it back to America. They aren’t doing it for US-Kurdish relations if last week’s divorce means anything.

    I knew it was too good to be true. Probably means this oil will pipelined through Turkey or Iraq to a nearby port.

  5. Mary E says

    It is time now for Russia to make its move to save the gas fields and the oil stolen by the US..before the tanks arrive! There will be less of a mess if they do it NOW>>>
    And let’s all hope that that is their plan: to save Syria’s oil, gas and wheat fields for the
    Syrians so they can rebuild their US decimated country.

    1. cap960 says

      In due time… one step at the time. First Russia needs to deal with Turkey then with the Yank thieves.

  6. ArcAngel says

    “senior pentagon officals” and “Newsweek” equate to extreme bovine waste. A complete waste of time…. If the US sends amour to fortify its stolen lands, I foresee alot of US armored hulks burning in the desert. The US trying to provide air cover for this clusterfuk is going to be interesting.

  7. CHUCKMAN says

    The intention really is in this hare-brained scheme to hurt Syria on an ongoing basis, despite having lost the long ugly proxy war.

    The big advocate for this, behind the scenes, has to be Netanyahu.

    A relentless and demanding man with no regard for international law or convention of any description if it stands in the way of what he wants.

    Even with thirty tanks, I think a small American force left there cannot hope to long control things.

    It is of course contrary to all international law, but then so is a very great deal of what America does today, including ever having had a single soldier in Syria.

    1. thomas malthaus says

      Bombing Syria’s only cement factory, which may or may not have had American weapons stored there is pure vindictiveness

      1. Mary E says

        Yep…that is the US: destroy all that is theirs if you can’t make it your own

  8. thomas malthaus says

    Perhaps I’m missing the picture that describes Syria’s sovereignty. That includes control over its major income-producing source: its oil fields

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