New York — "We don't want to keep soldiers between Syria and Turkey for the next 200 years," Trump told reporters during an impromptu press conference after his Sunday announcement that the leader of the so-called Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in an overnight US military operation in Syria.
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"We're out, but we are leaving soldiers to secure the oil," Trump said.
"What I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly...and spread the wealth," he added, noting that much of the oil is in the ground and the equipment to extract it is lacking.
"The oil is so valuable, for many reasons," Trump said on Sunday. "It fueled ISIS, number one. Number two, it helps the Kurds - because it's basically been taken away from the Kurds... And, number three, it can help us, because we should be able to take some also."
The US "may have to fight for the oil," he said. "It's okay." The president said anyone trying to take the oil will have a "helluva fight" on their hands.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said earlier this week that the US will send in troops to protect Syrian oil fields from Islamic State militants.
Syria is not considered a major oil producer. US Energy Information Administration oil data pegged Syrian output around 30,000 b/d as of June, well-down from the near 600,000 b/d levels seen in the mid-1990s.
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