President Donald Trump insisted Wednesday that the only reason U.S. troops are currently stationed in Syria is for “the oil.” “We are keeping the oil. We have the oil. The oil is secure. We left troops behind only for the oil,” Trump reportedly said Wednesday at the White House, alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The leaders also discussed Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria to fight Kurdish forces, who have been American allies in the past against terror group ISIS.
Trump has previously identified Syria’s oil as a U.S. national security priority and has committed to deploying troops to protect the country’s reserves—despite experts indicating the country’s oil supply is very low. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in October that the U.S. plans to deploy troops to protect Syrian oil fields from ISIS militants. Trump moved most of U.S. troops out of Syria in October, abandoning the United States’ Kurdish allies to an attack by Turkey.