As the US is pulling troops out of Afghanistan and changing its mission in Iraq, a Biden administration official made it clear in comments to Politico that there are no plans to pull troops out of Syria.
“I don’t anticipate any changes right now to the mission or the footprint in Syria,” the official said, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. There are currently about 900 US troops in northeast Syria.
“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 said.
While the US claims its presence in Syria is to help fight ISIS, the region where US troops are deployed is where most of the country’s oil fields are. The occupation keeps the vital resource out of the hands of the Syrian government, which is part of Washington’s economic warfare against the country.
The US maintains crushing economic sanctions on Syria. The sanctions specifically target the energy and construction sectors, making it difficult for the country to rebuild after 11 years of war and exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. According to the UN, the number of Syrians that are close to starvation is at 12.4 million, or 60 percent of the population.
On Monday, President Biden announced the US “combat” mission in Iraq would be coming to an end, but US troops will remain in the country. There are currently 2,500 US troops in Iraq, and it’s not clear if any will be removed as Washington changes its mission to a strictly advisory one. Multiple media reports cited anonymous US officials who said changes to troop levels in Iraq would be minimal. One reason the US wants to hold on to its bases in Iraq is that they support the occupation forces in Syria.