Mr Trump's move to pull out troops has opened a new chapter in Syria's more than eight-year war and prompted a rush by Turkey and by the Damascus government and its ally Russian Federation to fill the vacuum left by the US.
Until this month, northeastern Syria had largely been under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led militia that had used the chaos of the eight-year civil war to establish an autonomous region that operated independently of both the central government in Damascus and Syrian Arab rebel fighters.
The Kurds were stunned when President Trump two weeks ago abruptly made a decision to pull US troops out of border areas, abandoning their allied Kurdish-backed fighters ahead of Turkey's invasion. The trouble is, the more Trump says, "It's time to bring them home", the more he leads Americans to believe those troops are en route to USA soil, which is plainly not the case.
"The most contemporary game thought is for those forces to re-self-discipline into western Iraq", Mr Esper mentioned unimaginative on Saturday, no longer ruling out that they would possibly conduct counterterrorism missions from Iraq into Syria.
Esper said the troops are needed to secure oil fields from falling into the hands of ISIS and profiting from them, The Associated Press reports. USA troops on Saturday were still in the process of being moved out of the region. Abandoned specifically by President Trump and the White House. "Those are things we would have to be presented to the president in due course", Esper said earlier in the day.
Trump defended the withdrawal decision saying, "we never agreed to protect the Kurds for the rest of their lives".
He added "When we face an aggression or robbery, we should stand by each other and should coordinate between us, but some Syrians haven't done that, particularly over the first years of the war..."
The U.S. now has more than 5,000 American forces in Iraq, under an agreement between the two countries.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper addresses reporters during a media briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., October 11, 2019. The US pulled its troops out of Iraq in 2011 when combat operations there ended, but they went back in after IS began to take over large swaths of the country in 2014. "And they say they are facing mass expulsion and it is just a matter of time before they are wiped off this part of the country".
Turkey says it wants to return Syrian refugees to the areas evacuated.
USA forces could be seen withdrawing on Monday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions. The official said it will still take a couple of weeks to get forces out of Syria.