Pentagon officials asserted Thursday U.S. military authority over Syrian oil fields because U.S. forces are acting under the goal of "protecting Americans from terrorist activity" and would be within their rights to shoot a representative of the Syrian government who attempted to retake control over that country's national resource.
The comments came from Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman and Navy Rear Admiral William D. Byrne Jr. during a press briefing in which the two men were asked repeatedly about the legal basis the U.S. is claiming to control Syrian oil fields.
The briefing came less than two weeks after Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, "That's our mission, to secure the oil fields" in the Deir ez-Zor area of eastern Syria. President Donald Trump's comments before and after that remark —"We're going to be protecting [the oil], and we'll be deciding what we're going to do with it in the future," and "The oil... can help us, because we should be able to take some"— were seized on by critics who claimed Trump was suggesting violating international law by plundering another country's resources and openly saying the U.S. was pursuing war for oil.
Hoffman, in his comments Thursday, gave a different message—that "the revenue from this is not going to the U.S. This is going to the SDF," referring to the Kurdish-led and U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces, who are battling ISIS. Byrne claimed that the U.S. has been waging the oil field control mission alongside SDF and that the goal was to prevent ISIS from obtaining the oil revenue.
But, as one reporter pointed out, ISIS fighters "have no armor. They have no aircraft."
"Do they have the capability to actually seize the oil fields?" the reporter asked. "And isn't this really about Russia and Syria seizing those oil fields?"
Hoffman replied that the goal was "to prevent a resurgence" of ISIS which would be facilitated if the terrorist group had access to the oil revenue.
Pressed again by a reporter about the "legal basis for... the United States military to take and control the natural resources inside the boundaries of another country," Hoffman responded, "the legal basis for this comes under the commander-in-chief's authority for us to be conducting counter-terrorism efforts against ISIS. And I — I get your point when you're trying to decouple the ISIS issue from the Syria issue, but it is not a decoupled issue."
"We're committed to [the defeat of ISIS], and we're committed to staying in the region," he said. "We're committed to, in this particular case, having troops in Syria in a way that helps us continue the D-ISIS mission as long as we believe it's necessary."
Source: Zero Hedge.