‘In a major U-turn in the US military policy, the White House announced on October 6 that the US would be withdrawing its forces from northeastern Syria, clearing the path for an expected Turkish incursion into the region.
Three days later, Turkey launched the offensive with the aim of purging the northern Syrian regions near its border of US-backed Kurdish militants, whom it views as terrorists linked to local autonomy-seeking militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
In late October, the US Defense Department confirmed that “mechanized forces” would be redeployed in eastern Syria to protect oil fields there, a clear departure from Trump’s earlier order to pull out all troops from the country.
In November, the US president made it clear that his only mission to keep troops in Syria was to take possession of the country’s oil.
“We’re keeping the oil. We have the oil. The oil is secure. We left troops behind only for the oil,” Trump said.
Trump’s remarks contradicted earlier remarks by his Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who tried to justify the presence of “500 to 600-ish troops” in Syria by alleging they were seeking to deny ISIS – an acronym used by US officials to refer to Daesh terrorist group – access to Syrian oil reserves.
Taking hold of a foreign country’s oil reserves without permission from the sovereign authority would be a serious breach of international law.
In addition, the Geneva Convention, to which the US is a signatory, explicitly forbids the looting of property during conflict, referring to it as a war crime.
In December, a senior adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Damascus planned to file a lawsuit against Washington for plundering the Arab country’s oil resources.’