US Has no Plans to Remove Its Illegal Military ‘Footprint’ From Syria, Report Says
15:13 GMT 28.07.2021 (Updated: 18:05 GMT 28.07.2021)
© AP Photo / Hussein MallaA U.S. soldier, left, sits on an armored vehicle behind a sand barrier at a newly installed position near the tense front line between the U.S-backed Syrian Manbij Military Council and the Turkish-backed fighters, in Manbij, north Syria, Wednesday, April 4, 2018.
© AP Photo / Hussein Malla
The United States and its Syrian Kurdish allies took control of wide swathes of eastern Syria in 2017. The area contains the vast majority of the country’s oil and gas reserves, as well as major food-producing regions. Damascus has repeatedly demanded that all foreign forces not explicitly invited into the country by the Syrian government get out.
The White House has no plans to withdraw US forces illegally stationed in Syria due to threat posed by the Daesh (ISIS)* terrorist group, administration and military officials have told Politico.
“I don’t anticipate any changes right now to the mission or the footprint in Syria,” a senior administration official said.
“In Syria, we’re supporting Syrian Democratic Forces in their fight against ISIS. That’s been quite successful, and that’s something that we’ll continue,” the official added, referring to the SDF – a collection of mostly-Syrian Kurdish militias which have de-facto administrative control over much of eastern Syria for several years.
A defence official told the outlet that the US hasn’t been carrying out combat patrols in Syria "or over a year," with US troops said to be providing "support from afar," including via air support, and “not kicking in doors, apprehending, the enemy, etc.”
The administration official said there are about 900 troops, including Green Beret special forces, in Syria at the moment.
© AP PhotoIn this frame grab from video, Russian, Syrian and others gather next to an American military convoy stuck in the village of Khirbet Ammu, east of Qamishli city, Syria, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. The Syrian official news agency SANA, said Wednesday, that locals had gathered at an army checkpoint, pelting the U.S. convoy with stones and taking down a U.S. flag flying on a vehicle when troops fired with live ammunition and smoke bombs. (AP Photo)
In this frame grab from video, Russian, Syrian and others gather next to an American military convoy stuck in the village of Khirbet Ammu, east of Qamishli city, Syria, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. The Syrian official news agency SANA, said Wednesday, that locals had gathered at an army checkpoint, pelting the U.S. convoy with stones and taking down a U.S. flag flying on a vehicle when troops fired with live ammunition and smoke bombs. (AP Photo)
© AP Photo
The reported plans to keep the illegal US military footprint in Syria comes amid Washington’s continued withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the recently-agreed promise to remove combat troops from Iraq.
Last week, the Russian military reported that areas of eastern Syria under the control of the US-led coalition have witnessed a spike in activity by radical groups. These groups are said to be attacking coalition targets at oil and gas fields.
On 10 July, a US defence official confirmed to Sputnik that US forces at the Conoco gas field had come under “indirect fire attack,” and that no injuries were reported. The area was said to have been hit by at least four missiles. A day later, Syrian media reported that a US military base near the Omar oil field – Syria’s largest source of crude oil, had come under attack. US forces did not comment on that incident.
© AP Photo / Hussein MallaThis March 27, 2018 file photo shows Syrian workers fixing pipes of an oil well at an oil field controlled by a U.S-backed Kurdish group, in Rmeilan, Hassakeh province, Syria.
This March 27, 2018 file photo shows Syrian workers fixing pipes of an oil well at an oil field controlled by a U.S-backed Kurdish group, in Rmeilan, Hassakeh province, Syria.
© AP Photo / Hussein Malla
During its occupation of eastern Syria, which began in 2017 after US forces entered the country, ostensibly to fight Daesh, Washington has engaged in the widespread plunder of Syrian oil and food resources, depriving the Middle Eastern nation of energy and food security, and stripping Damascus of sources of income for reconstruction following the country’s decade-long, foreign-backed civil war. Syrian media reports on US coalition oil and food smuggling activities on a weekly and sometimes daily basis, with dozens of tanker trucks, tractor trailers laden with grain, and other vehicles taken out of the country as military vehicles and supplies are brought in. Syria estimates that the US coalition controls as much as 90 percent of its oil resources.
28 July, 14:31 GMT
Unlike his predecessor Donald Trump, who openly boasted about “taking” and “keeping” Syria’s oil, President Joe Biden and other members of his administration have framed the US occupation of eastern Syria as a matter of "fighting terrorism" and preventing the reemergence of Daesh.
Syrian officials and their allies have repeatedly accused the US of actively cooperating with Daesh. In 2018, two years before he was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad, Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani called on Iranian diplomats to "slap the West in the face" with proof of US-Daesh cooperation at the United Nations by pointing to the suspicious movement of US transport helicopters and planes in and out of territories controlled by the terrorists.
* A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.