U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced on Friday, Oct. 25, that the United States will be sending out armored reinforcements into eastern Syria to protect oil fields from potential ISIS terrorist attacks.

President Donald Trump told reporters during a Cabinet meeting that it is necessary that a small number of U.S. troops remain in Syria in order to make sure that oil fields are not compromised by ISIS.

“That’s very dangerous territory,” Trump said. “I don’t think it’s necessary other than we secure the oil. It’s a little different section, but we need to secure the oil.”

A report by the Star Tribune speculated that armored reinforcements, described by Esper as “mechanized,” would likely include armored vehicles and possibly tanks, but the details are still unclear.

The president also celebrated the victory of U.S. troops returning after discussing the prospect of a permanent cease-fire in the region.

Vice President Mike Pence alerted of a cease-fire that the Trump administration helped mediate between Turkey and Syria last week “has held” and applauded the president for making a permanent cease-fire possible.

Trump also told reporters at the White House on Friday that, the United States would punish Turkey’s economy by imposing “crippling” sanctions if the country failed to protect religious and ethnic minorities.

Esper also said during a statement at NATO headquarters in Brussels that the United States is “considering how we might reposition forces in the area in order to ensure we secure the oil field,” adding that “we are reinforcing that position. It will include some mechanized forces.”

The U.S. Defense secretary emphasized that the main objective is to prevent ISIS efforts from regaining access to Syrian oil, where it was able to gain most of its revenue prior to 2017, Star Tribune reported.

The United States has conducted airstrikes beginning late 2015 against numerous oil resources in the Deir ez-Zour Governorate that was seized by ISIS. The assault, known as Operation Tidal Wave II, destroyed or damaged oil tanker convoys, oil processing plants, storage facilities, pumping stations, pipelines, and refineries.

Esper stressed that the oil fields must not be threatened by ISIS.

“If ISIS has access to the resources, and therefore the means to procure arms or to buy fighters or whatever else they do, then it means it makes it more difficult to defeat ISIS,” Esper said.

Over the past few days, Trump has emphasized securing eastern Syrian oil facilities and said that a small portion of armed forces will remain to protect it.

“We’ve secured the oil, and therefore, a small number of U.S. troops will remain in the area where they have the oil,” Trump said.

“We are doing well in Syria, with Turkey and everybody else that we’re dealing with,” the president reassured.

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