US to Leave 600 Troops in Syria to Prevent ISIS Resurgence
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley stated on Sunday that the United States will leave about 600 troops (or less than 1000) in Northeastern Syria to prevent an ISIS resurgence and takeover of the Syrian oil fields.
“Milley, speaking on the ABC News program “This Week,” said the number of troops who would remain was “probably in the 500-ish frame. Maybe 600.” He did not mention Syrian oil, but said that “there are still ISIS fighters in the region and unless pressure is maintained … then there’s a very real possibility that conditions could be set for reemergence of ISIS.”
“The footprint will be small, but the objective will remain the same: the enduring defeat of ISIS,” Milley said.
Syria’s relatively small oil reserves are concentrated in the northeastern part of the country, currently under the control of U.S.-allied Kurdish-led fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces. Black market sale of the oil by the SDF, primarily to the Syrian government, helps fund those forces.
A separate U.S. force of about 150 remains in southern Syria, on the Jordanian border.”
There are currently about 200 US troops at the al-Tanf garrison in southern Syria. It’s unclear by Gen Milley’s statement whether or not the “500 or 600” troops includes those.
The decision to withdraw from Syria caused a firestorm across both left and right. But in order to protect the oil fields now under control of the Kurdish SDF, President Trump acquiesced to leave some troops to protect them.
The left has accused the President of “stealing” Syrian oil, while the right has been having a meltdown over “abandoning” our allies. None of those ideas is correct, evidenced by the response of Kurds to the takedown of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. You can read that response here.
ISIS once took control of the oil fields in Iraq, which created a huge boom to their finances. The US is in no hurry to allow that to happen in Syria.
Turkish President Erdogan is scheduled to come to the White House this Thursday to discuss the border situation in Syria.
Featured photo: Screenshot of US troops near Syrian oil fields via ABC news