A Pentagon official said Thursday that the U.S. is planning to send additional troops into northeastern Syria to protect oil fields from Daesh. The announcement comes as Russia, which has gained new power in the region, ordered all U.S. troops out of the country and called the remaining American troops an “occupying force”, CBS News reported.
The announcement is a reversal of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull U.S. forces from the area, which sparked a Turkish cross-border offensive earlier this month.
While most U.S. troops are withdrawing from Syria, the Pentagon is planning a major increase in firepower to protect the ones left behind. If approved, a combat unit armed with tanks would be sent into an area along the Euphrates River to reinforce about 200 lightly armed troops who are staying in Syria to protect the oil fields.
“One of the most significant gains by the U.S. and our partners in the fight against ISIS was gaining control of oil fields in Eastern Syria – a crucial source of revenue for ISIS,” a defense official said.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he was briefed on the situation Thursday by Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley.
“There’s a plan coming together from the Joint Chiefs, that I think may work, that may give us what we need to prevent ISIS from coming back around,” he said.
Trump’s decision to order 1,000 U.S. troops out from northern Syria more than a week ago was met with widespread condemnation by Democrats and Republicans in Congress, who accused the President of abandoning the Kurdish allies who were instrumental in defeating ISIS. The Kurds were also in control of several prisons holding ISIS fighters and their families.