Pentagon leaders and President Donald Trump diverged Monday on the rationale behind keeping U.S. forces in northeastern Syria, with the president renewing his insistence that the U.S. will control Syrian oil fields.
"We're keeping the oil," the president told a gathering of police chiefs in Chicago on Monday. "Remember that. I've always said that: Keep the oil. We want to keep the oil – $45 million a month. Keep the oil."
The comments stood in stark contrast with remarks just hours later by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who spoke at a press conference a day after Trump revealed the U.S. military targeted and killed Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Esper appeared testy when pressed about the U.S. reasons for pulling back from areas where they had been fighting with Kurdish troops known as the Syrian Democratic Forces and focusing instead on the president's new order of securing the Syrian oil fields.
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