The United States will send armored vehicles and combat troops into eastern Syria to keep oil fields from potentially falling into the hands of ISIS extremists, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Friday.
It was the latest sign that extracting the military from Syria is more uncertain and complicated than President Donald Trump is making it out to be. Though Trump repeatedly says he is pulling out of Syria, the reality on the ground is different.
Adding armored reinforcements in the oil-producing area of Syria could mean sending several hundred US troops – even as a similar number are being withdrawn from a separate mission closer to the border with Turkey where Russian forces have been filling the vacuum.
Esper described the added force as “mechanized,” which means it likely will include armored vehicles such as Bradley armored infantry carriers and possibly tanks, although details were still being worked out. This reinforcement would introduce a new dimension to the US military presence, which largely has been comprised of special operations forces not equipped with tanks or other armored vehicles.
Esper: US troops, armored vehicles going to Syria oil fields