The U.S. won't be keeping the profits from pumping oil at fields in eastern Syria guarded by U.S. troops, Pentagon officials said Thursday.
"The revenue from this is not going to the U.S., this is going to the SDF," Pentagon chief spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said, referring to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces who led the drive against ISIS in Syria with U.S. support.
At a Pentagon briefing, Hoffman and Rear Adm. William Byrne, vice director of the Pentagon's Joint Staff, said U.S. troops, now including mechanized forces sent back into Syria, were guarding wells near the Iraqi border in cooperation with the SDF.
U.S. troops were "shoulder to shoulder with our SDF partners," Byrne said, despite the U.S. withdrawal from northeastern Syria last month. The announcement of withdrawal was quickly followed by a Turkish invasion of the region aimed at the SDF.
Byrne said the SDF was still joined with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS remnants and "security of the oil fields is a subordinate task to that mission."
The oilfields once held by ISIS generated about $1.5 million daily for the terror group.
"We're just not going to let that happen again," Byrne said.
The U.S. will also continue supporting the SDF, he said.
The SDF are "[still] our partners and we are still working with them in our fight against ISIS and we're still going to provide them with the support and ability to be able to continue that fight," Hoffman said.
The apparent commitment to let the SDF have the profits from the oil fields contrasted with Trump's remarks in recent weeks that the U.S. might want a major firm such as ExxonMobil to come in to develop the fields.
Last Friday, Trump told reporters on the White House lawn that eventually "we want to bring our soldiers home" from Syria but some would be staying there "because we're keeping the oil."
— Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.