Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday that some U.S. troops may remain in eastern Syria to ensure that Islamic State fighters do not take over oil fields.
Earlier this month, President Trump announced he was pulling most U.S. troops out of northeastern Syria, paving the way for Turkey to cross the border and attempt to push back Kurdish forces. As American allies, the Kurds led the fight against ISIS in Syria, losing thousands of fighters in the process.
Esper said the plan is still being worked out and has not yet been seen by Trump. By leaving some U.S. troops in Syria, it would give Trump "maneuver room," he told reporters. Esper also said that troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq, and operations against ISIS will continue. During a Cabinet meeting on Monday, Trump said ISIS had once been "all over the place," but he "captured them. I'm the one who did the capturing." Catherine Garcia