“We have our troops out of there, and we will be bringing a lot of them back home, but again we are keeping the oil”, Trump said at the beginning of his meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The statement comes after a US military convoy was reportedly positioned near several oil deposits in north-eastern Syria.
About 90 percent of Syria’s oil reserves are concentrated east of the Euphrates River, which was previously a stronghold and the main source of income for Daesh* terrorists, and is now mainly controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Turkish media earlier cited eyewitnesses as saying that US forces have already begun construction of two military bases in strategic locations in Syria’s oil-rich east.
In October, US President Donald Trump, who had previously announced his intention to withdraw all US forces from the area, said that some troops would remain to "guard oil" from Daesh fighters. Trump defended his moves by saying that the goal was to provide the Kurds with some "cash flow" in a conversation with reporters in the White House in late October.
Later, the head of the Pentagon, Mark Esper, said that the United States would protect the oil fields in Syria and respond with force to any attempts to seize them. According to him, US troops are ready to repel assaults from either Russian or Syrian forces.
*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist group banned in Russia