Pentagon Chief: US Mechanized Forces to ‘Protect’ Syrian Oil Fields

Trump suggests Kurds move to area near oilfields

Elaborating on Thursday evening’s report that US tanks are going to be sent to Syria, Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed Friday that the US is sending “mechanized forces” into the area around some eastern Syria oil fields, with an eye toward retaining control over the oil.

Over the past week, US officials have emphasized that military operations in Syria are now more or less wholly about oil, with some lip service to preventing ISIS’s return. Esper suggested US forces need to keep ISIS from the oil, though other officials have said the US need to keep the oil from Syria, or from Iran.

Whatever the case, the US wants to keep the oil away from anything that is not the US. Hoping to set up a long-term US control of the region, President Trump has also suggested that the Kurds, in the course of getting chased out of northern Syria, consider moving to the area around the US-occupied oil fields.

The US had previously been on the way out of Syria, with Turkey invading the northeast, but the Trump Administration has subsequently shifted its priorities to controlling the oil, and Trump in particular has been keen to make oil the new metric for the war’s success.

While this is just another basic excuse for military engagement, same as any other, the deployment of tanks into the area suggests the US is envisioning this being a very long-term operation.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of