WASHINGTON DC – The U.S. is studying “legal” options to attack Russian and Syrian forces in order to prevent Syrian oil from falling into the hands of terrorists while Trump expands actions in the Arab country, according to the AP.
Although US President Donald Trump has shown a strong interest in withdrawing his military from Syria, Washington’s policy for the Arab country is taking a new turn.
As published the AP news agency, Trump approved measures that expand the use of the armed forces of his country in northeastern Syria.
Citing unnamed government sources, the agency also said the United States is studying the legal framework to defend oil wells in northeastern Syria from “any force that tries to control them,” from terrorist groups to government forces, including Russian and Syrian troops.
Such protection of the oil wells would be done with the full use of military power , while a US Defense source said at least 800 US military personnel would remain in Syria.
However, the US authorities would be divided over the use of force against the Syrian government and its allies, with Senator Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, called the mission misguided.
“Risking the lives of our troops to guard oil rigs in eastern Syria is not only reckless, it’s not legally authorized,” Kaine told The Associated Press. “President Trump betrayed our Kurdish allies that have fought alongside American soldiers in the fight to secure a future without ISIS – and instead moved our troops to protect oil rigs.”
Since the beginning of its operations in Syria, the US government has attempted to justify its attacks based on the Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) issued in 2001 and 2002 against any individual, group or force linked to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.
As such, Pentagon forces rely on US domestic law to operate on foreign soil. However, according to experts, under US law such permits would cover operations against terrorist groups in Syria only.
Thus, the laws would limit the use of US military power in this country.
“The U.S. is not at war with either Syria or Turkey, making the use of the AUMF a stretch,” said Stephen Vladeck, a national security law professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
He added that while the U.S. Constitution bestows significant war powers on the president, those are generally meant to be about self-defense and for the collective defense of the country. Arguing that securing the oil is necessary for national security “just strikes me as a bridge too far,” he said.
Expansion of the military mission
According to the media, the United States intends to keep its troops from Deir ez-Zor to Al-Hasakah, a city controlled by the Kurdish forces.
At the moment, the US still has a few hundred soldiers and armored vehicles in northeastern Syria. However, the contingent would not be sufficient to keep all oil wells in the region under military control, according to the media.