How many US troops are in Syria
Trump's U-turn : The withdrawal from withdrawal in Syria
US troops began withdrawing from Syria a month ago on the instructions of President Donald Trump - but now they are returning. After this latest U-turn in Trump's Syria policy, they are supposed to guard the oil fields of the civil war country. But it is also a late attempt by the USA to prevent Russia from gaining power in Syria and to stop Turkey's advance in the region.
"We'll keep the oil," Trump stressed several times over the past few weeks. On October 6, the President surprisingly ordered the withdrawal of around 1,000 US soldiers from Syria, thus enabling the Turkish intervention against the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG - the US's most important partner in Syria. Even his supporters in Washington described Trump's decision as a betrayal of the Kurds. The reference to the Syrian oil wells in the YPG area in eastern Syria now helps him to justify the relocation of soldiers to the region.
The US-led anti-IS coalition has now published photos of American tanks being loaded onto transport planes for the new mission in the Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor. According to reports from the Syrian Kurds, at least three convoys of US military vehicles have arrived in eastern Syria from Iraq in the past few days. Around 200 American soldiers are said to intercept possible weapons transports by the Iranians at the Al Tanf base in Syria. The New York Times reported that an estimated 900 US soldiers would be stationed in Syria after the troop transfers were completed - only 100 fewer than before Trump's order to withdraw.
Last December, the US President announced the withdrawal from Syria without reducing the number of soldiers. The US continues to claim air sovereignty over the eastern part of Syria. Russia, which controls the western part of the country with its air force, is slowed down.
Officially, the new Syria mission is supposed to protect Syrian oil from IS. US representatives also emphasize that the sale of the oil is intended to secure a source of income for the YPG. The money is intended to help the Kurdish militia, among other things, to keep guarding IS prisoners. In addition, Washington regards the oil reserves, which are important for the reconstruction of Syria, as a bargaining chip: They should help the USA to maintain its influence in Syria when it comes to the future of the civil war country.
This is also feared by the governments of Syria and Russia. Syrian President Bashar al Assad called the United States a colonial power that is snatching Syria's resources. Assad had hoped that after a US withdrawal from Syria, he would be able to bring the east of the country back under his control. Nothing will come of that for now. On Syrian state television, he admitted that his government was currently unable to do anything against the United States. Assad's protective power Russia called the US occupation of the Syrian oil wells "banditry".
Assad rejects international protection zone
In the interview, Assad rejected the proposal by Federal Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to set up an international “protection zone” in northeast Syria. At the same time, he praised the agreement between Turkey and Russia, with which Ankara's intervention had been stopped for the time being. The Turkish-Russian agreement could help Syria to bring the Kurdish areas back under control of the central government in the long term, Assad said. “The agreement is temporary, not permanent. It is a positive step (...) which will reduce the damage and pave the way to liberate this area, hopefully in the near future. ”The German proposal was about placing security in the region under international patronage, said Assad. This would have excluded the Syrian state from control of the area, which would have solidified the division of the country.
The return of the US is bad news for Turkey too. Ankara had set its army on October 9th against the YPG and stopped the advance after two weeks after agreements with the USA and Russia. The new US convoys also appeared, according to some reports, in areas where the YPG had fought against Turkish forces. The Kurdish militia accuses Turkey and its allies of violating the ceasefire with new attacks.
On Friday, Turkish and Russian troops began joint patrols on Syrian territory to investigate the withdrawal of the YPG from the region on the Turkish border. Ankara wants to create a YPG-free “protection zone” controlled by Turkey in the area. Up to two million Syrian refugees from Turkey are to be settled there. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was angry about the US stance. For the Americans, "a drop of oil is more valuable than a drop of blood".
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