Since the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, there has been speculation that the US might also leave Syria, but the Biden administration has been quick to dispel such rumors. In the latest comments, Biden officials told Al Jazeera that a Syria withdrawal wouldn’t be happening any time soon.
An assistant to a senior Middle East official on Biden’s National Security Council said the administration had given “assurances” to the US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria that the US would not be leaving. Earlier in October, a Syrian Kurdish official traveled to Washington and met with Biden officials who promised the US would continue its military presence in Syria.
Officially, the US is in Syria to support the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against ISIS. But the presence is really a part of a broader campaign against the Syrian government. The region of eastern Syria where the US has about 900 troops is where most of the country’s oil fields are, and the occupation keeps the resource out of the hands of Damascus.
On top of the military occupation, the US maintains crippling economic sanctions on Syria to prevent the country from rebuilding. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently admitted that the US policy on Syria is to “oppose the reconstruction” of the country.
The Biden administration’s Syria policy has bipartisan support in Congress. An aide to a Senate Democrat told Al Jazeera that there are “pretty strong feelings in both parties that we should exercise full leverage, including our military presence” against the Syrian government. “From what I hear, when it comes to the issue of our boots on the ground, the White House is on the same page,” the aide said.