BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The US will strengthen its army presence in Syria to forestall Islamic State fighters from accessing oil fields and income, U.S. Secretary of Protection Mark Esper mentioned on Friday, the most recent twist in President Donald Trump’s coverage on Syria.
U.S. Secretary of Protection Mark Esper arrives for a bilateral assembly with Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar (not pictured) throughout a NATO defence ministers assembly in Brussels, Belgium October 25, 2019. Virginia Mayo/Pool through REUTERS
Trump has been softening his pullout plans for Syria after a backlash from Congress, together with amongst key Republicans, who say he enabled a long-threatened Turkish incursion towards Kurdish forces in Syria who had been America’s high allies within the battle towards Islamic State.
“We are actually taking some actions… to strengthen our place at Deir al zor, to make sure that we are able to deny ISIS entry to the oil fields,” Esper advised reporters throughout a press convention, utilizing an acronym for Islamic State.
“We’re reinforcing that place, it should embrace some mechanized forces,” Esper mentioned. Mechanized forces often embrace tanks and different army property.
He didn’t say what number of forces have been presently within the area or what number of further forces could be despatched.
Any important U.S. army presence on the bottom would must be correctly defended from potential assault, significantly in oil-rich areas of Syria that might develop into targets of not simply Islamic State militants however probably Russian-backed or Iran-backed forces working within the nation.
The vacuum left by Trump’s partial withdrawal has created a gap that Russia exploited by transferring forces into the realm. U.S. officers fear that Iran-backed forces in Syria might additionally capitalize on the chaos.
Round 300 extra Russian army police have arrived in Syria, the Russian protection ministry mentioned on Friday, below an accord between Ankara and Moscow which halted Turkey’s army incursion into northeast Syria.
Amid fears that Islamic State might stage a comeback, Trump mentioned on Wednesday a small variety of U.S. troops would stay within the space of Syria “the place they’ve the oil,” a reference to oilfields within the Kurdish-controlled area.
Esper mentioned his Turkish counterpart had advised him that Ankara had recaptured a few of 100 Islamic State militants who’re believed to have escaped from jail in Syria on account of the Turkish incursion.
Esper met Turkish Protection Minister Hulusi Akar on Friday in Brussels.
Reporting by Idrees Ali and Robin Emmott, enhancing by Marine Strauss, William Maclean