"First of all, the mission of ‘protect’ is probably too much of a layman’s term... It is basically to secure an area, and that area is to serve as a base for our continued Defeat-ISIS [Daesh] operations, which is a legal basis for our military to be there in northeast Syria in the first place with our local SDF allies", the official said on Wednesday.
US diplomats have received no directions with respect to the oil fields in northeast Syria, where local communities exploit energy resources for their own benefit.
"We have no guidance here in the Department of State from the administration to do anything with the oil fields", the State Department official said on Wednesday in response to a question whether the US government pondered asking energy companies to "fix" the oil fields in northern Syria.
In late October, US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper said the United States would deny the Russian and Syrian forces access to oil fields that it is protecting in northeast Syria. Esper said the United States will ensure the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces' control over the oil fields.
On Tuesday, the Turkish Anadolu news agency reported that the US military was building two new bases in the oil-rich province of Deir ez-Zor in northeast Syria.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accused the United States of using revenues from selling Syrian oil to prop up loyal armed groups in Syria.
Meanwhile, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev said last week that the oil-rich territories in northeastern Syria must be controlled by the Syrian government.
*Daesh (ISIS, ISIL, IS, Islamic State) is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.