U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper stated that “our mission [in Syria] is the enduring defeat of ISIS. We're going to have about 500 to 600-ish troops there, at the end of the day. We're still moving troops out of northeastern Syria”. In related remarks, a U.S. senior official, referring to oil fields around Deir al-Zour, noted that “the oil is – has been, for the last four years, managed by our partner, the civilian side of our partner operation, the SDC [Syrian Democratic Council]… And we have every expectation they will be continuing to do that without any interference from us”. “Our role”, he added, “is one of ensuring that they’re not bothered by anybody in continuing to do what they’ve been doing for the last four years”.
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