The additional forces will help "prevent oil fields from falling into the hands of ISIS or other destabilizing actors," said a US defense official.
"We will not discuss the details or timing of these forces for security reasons.
Photographers in the region have taken photographs showing a convoy of about a dozen army vehicles rolling past oil pumps through the Syrian city of Kamyshli, many of them with American flags flying over them. Most of the vehicles are mine-resistant armored vehicles, with several civilian trucks mixed inside. It does not appear that tanks or Bradley fighting vehicles have moved to Syria, though US officials have said they are considering both options in the coming days. [1
9659002] The convoy Saturday is the last whirlwind trip for the Pentagon in Syria, which began with Turkey, which told the United States that it would launch an offensive against Kurdish parts of northern Syria. The White House announced on October 6 that it would not stand in the way despite years of the Pentagon's partnership with Syrian Kurds for operations against the Islamic State.
Trump decided at the end of October 13 to withdraw practically all 1,000 troops from northern Syria, with the SDF reaching an agreement with the Syrian security regime. The US forces quickly withdrew from several bases thereafter, leaving behind some equipment and even using F-15 aircraft to bomb one of its former headquarters to make it unusable by no one else.
But Trump was persuaded to move some US troops back to a stretch of eastern Syria, extending from Hasaka south to Deir al-Zour, farther from the border with Turkey. US officials have said the new mission around the oil fields there will prevent the Islamic State from taking them over, but will also allow the Pentagon to continue its counter-terrorism operations on the battlefield and maintain control of airspace overhead.
In Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry denied the movement of US troops to eastern Syria on Saturday. Earlier this week, Russia added about 300 military police to its contingent in Syria to help patrol a region along the Turkish border.
"What Washington is doing now, the seizure and control of oil fields in eastern Syria under its armed control, is, simply put, international state banditry," said Major General Defense spokesman Igor Konashenkov, according to media reports Brian Murphy in Washington contributed to this report.