The US will defend Syria’s oil fields and use force if someone tries to capture them, said US Defense Secretary Mark Esper at a press conference broadcast by C-Span TV network.
“The US will maintain control over the oil fields in north-eastern Syria. When [Islamic State ringleader] al-Baghdadi was alive, these fields were a source of financing for IS which supported its operation,” Esper observed. He said that the US will “respond seriously to any forces that threaten them”.
The defense secretary noted that the US does not intend to give Russian or Syrian soldiers access to the oil fields. According to Esper, the US wants these resources to be used by the US’s Kurdish allies, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
On October 24, US President Donald Trump said that some US troops would remain in the region of the oil fields in northern Syria, and that Washington will decide later what to do with this territory. He said that some of these oil fields had been controlled previously by IS, at a time when the US “was not fighting them with the Kurds’ help”. Three days later, the US president announced that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed in Idlib, Syria.