By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - Revenues from northeastern Syria's oil fields will be directed to the YPG/PKK-led SDF, the U.S. said Thursday.
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters that proceeds from the oil sales are "not going to the U.S."
"This is going to the SDF,” he said during a news conference in which he maintained U.S. support for its main partner in Syria.
The oil fields have been at the center of attention following U.S. President Donald Trump's withdrawal of American forces from northeastern Syria. Trump has since backpedaled on the full withdrawal he announced, acknowledging some troops will stay in the region "to secure the oil."
The U.S. has deployed mechanized forces to accomplish the task, but the mission has raised thorny legal questions over what authorities Trump has to direct the mission, and what its ultimate aim.
The Pentagon maintains the effort is focused squarely on denying the Daesh/ISIS terror group from accessing the revenues it once used to help it sprawl across and cement its grip on the region.
“Our force posture, whether it’s mechanized, whether it’s foot soldiers, and everything in between is meant to prevent that from happening again,” Adm. William Byrne, the antiterrorism chief for the Joint Staff, told reporters during Thursday's press conference.
Daesh, however, has been significantly degraded from the force that once captured and ran the oil sites. And with Russia and the Syrian regime now in the region, questions have been raised over whether the ultimate objective is denying them, not the terrorist organization, from benefiting from Syria's natural resources.
“The mission is the defeat of ISIS," Byrne said, using another name for Daesh. "The securing of the oil fields is a subordinate task to do that mission. And the purpose of that task is to deny ISIS the revenues from that oil infrastructure.”
Ankara agreed with Washington on Oct. 17 to pause a military operation to allow YPG/PKK terrorists to withdraw from the planned safe zone for five days.
Turkey launched the Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to eliminate terrorist YPG/PKK elements east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK.