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Pentagon chief mulls keeping some troops in Syria

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Pentagon chief mulls keeping some troops in Syria

Pentagon chief mulls keeping some troops in Syria

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Monday that keeping some U.S. troops in parts of northeastern Syria near oilfields with Syrian Democratic Forces to ensure that the oil did not fall into the hand of Islamic State or others was one of the options that was being discussed.

Gavino Garay reports.

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Pentagon chief mulls keeping some troops in Syria

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, MARK ESPER, SAYING: "This withdrawal will take weeks, not days.

Until that time our forces will remain in the towns that are located near the oil fields." U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper in Kabul on Monday told reporters he's considering keeping some U.S. troops in northeast Syria to protect oilfields from falling into the hands of Islamic State.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, MARK ESPER, SAYING: "The purpose of those forces, a purpose of those forces, working with the SDF is to deny access to those oilfields by ISIS and others who may benefit from their revenues that could be earned.

I've made no decision with regard to various options.

Those are things that we would have to present to the president in due course." Those comments come as President Donald Trump faces fierce criticism at home and abroad for announcing plans to pull American soldiers from Syria.

Critics say that move amounted to a green light for a Turkish military operation targeting America's Syrian Kurdish allies.

Esper did not specify exactly how many troops he might consider leaving in Syria.

This as more than 100 vehicles crossed the border into Iraq early on Monday from the northeast tip of Syria, where Turkey agreed to pause its offensive for five days under a deal with Washington.

That truce expires late on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, President Trump during a cabinet meeting at the White House on Monday seemed to downplay any notion of residual U.S. troop presence in Syria.

(SOUNBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAYING: "I don't want to leave troops there.

It's very dangerous... I don't think it's necessary other than that we secure the oil.

It's in a little different section, but we secure the oil." The announcement from the Pentagon chief came before an unannounced visit to Saudi Arabia, his first trip to the key Middle East ally since taking the job this summer, as tensions simmer between Washington and Tehran, and Russia seeks to increase its regional influence.




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