The United States (US) Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday they will continue to provide support to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) just a day after a Pentagon official told reporters that revenue from Syria’s oil fields was going to the forces(SDF).
“The US, in fact, provided enormous resources to the SDF and to the Kurds, resources that no other nation, including any European nation, was prepared to provide them. And we did so alongside of you [Germany, the UK, and France]. We are very proud of that and we are continuing to provide them support,” Pompeo said.
Answering audience questions at the Korber Global Leaders Dialogue in Berlin, Pompeo denied a claim that the US had exposed the Kurds to Turkey and paved the way for Moscow to come in the scene in Syria.
US President Donald Trump came under harsh criticism for his order to withdraw the US troops from the region controlled by the SDF which was later attacked by Turkish forces on October 9.
The US administration did so despite its backing the Kurdish groups in Syria where they fought together against the Islamic State (ISIS) and defeated the territorial caliphate in March this year.
Firstly, the US on October 17 and then Russia on October 22 reached a deal with Turkey to halt its incursion into a planned safe zone which it plans to send up to 2 million, out of 3.6 million Syrian refugees living in the country back.
It also plans to clear the area off the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the SDF’s militia forces.
The US secretary rejected the US-pullout allegations, arguing that the US was still “performing the mission set” in the region.
“[Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan made a decision to conduct an incursion into Turkey [Syria]. We opposed that. We have made the strategic decision that we are going to continue the counter-ISIS campaign there,” said Pompeo.
Pompeo also vowed that the ISIS defeat would not occur without their provision of resources to the Kurds. The US senior called on Europe to do the same.
“We are doing it because we have a vested interest. We think Europe has an interest in this as well. There are hundreds and hundreds of foreign terrorist fighters that are going to have to go somewhere. We are going to take the appropriate response so that the ISIS fighters cannot get a hold of the oil fields there [again],” Pompeo said.
Jonathan Rath Hoffman, assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs said during a news conference on Thursday that the revenue from oil fields was not going to the US but to the SDF.
While controlling the oil infrastructure in Syria in 2015 before its defeat, the ISIS was producing 45,000 barrels a day, worth about $1.5 million, according to the US department of defense.
Hoffman claimed that the ISIS had used the proceeds to fund its operations not only in the region but also throughout the world and further said it was not eliminated but just weakened, referring to its recent insurgent operations in the region.
“One of the ways they would be able to grow that back is by obtaining access to revenue, including the oil fields,” Hoffman said.
The US administration was, therefore, trying to prevent ISIS from benefiting from the oil revenue again and to provide the SDF with the revenue that they would use in their fight against ISIS, he said.
Turkey considers the SDF a terrorist offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) that has waged a decades-long separatist armed insurgency against the Turkish state.