The president proclaimed: ‘We can do with the oil that we want’ – although the Pentagon said last month that Syrian Democratic Forces were getting revenue generated by oil facilities occupied inside
Trump was asked at the start of NATO meetings in
‘It’s a country i have a good relationship with,’ Trump said. ‘We did a deal that everybody was critical of. And it works.
‘I want to get our soldiers out of there. I wanted to keep the oil. Now, they say, that was a great deal that Trump made.’
He said he ‘would hope’ that Turkish President Recep Erdogan ‘will be a good member of the NATO.
‘I kept the oil’ in relation to Syrian supplies being guarded by U.S. troops who remain there
He defended his pullout from the northern border with Syria, which precipitated a Turkish invasion that led to attacks on Kurdish U.S. allies who had battled ISIS alongside U.S. forces.
‘We left their border. We’ve been on their border long enough. They’re doing just fine on their border. We kept the oil. I kept the oil,’ Trump said of oil fields inside Syria that the U.S. is guarding to keep out of the hands of ISIS.
Although Trump has said ISIS has been defeated, he spoke Tuesday of residual forces.
‘The only people we have over there now, we have a few, a small group that are fighting the remnants of ISIS because they pop up again, and we put them down. We’ve defeated the ISIS caliphate. Nobody thought we could do that … I did it very quickly. When I came in it was virtually 100 per cent and I knocked it down to zero.
U.S. coalition airstrikes began against ISIS in 2014. By December of 2017, ISIS had lost 95 per cent of its territory, according to a
‘ISIS was trying to gain control of the oil. We have the control of the oil. The only soldiers that we have are the soldiers keeping the oil. We have the oil, and we can do with the oil that we want,’ Trump said.
Syrian oil production is just a fraction of its pre-war levels, according to a
Trump made similar claims last month alongside Erdogan at the White House, when he said: ‘We’re keeping the oil. We have the oil.’ The Pentagon said after those comments that oil revenues would in fact go to the Syrian Democratic Forces.
‘The revenue from this is not going to the US. This is going to the SDF,’ the Pentagon said.
Trump also appeared to defend Turkey’s position with respect to a Russian missile defense system that conflicts with the F-35 fighter that Trump called the best military aircraft in the world.
He said Turkey was ‘shut off’ from buying U.S.-made Patriot missiles during the Obama administration, essentially forcing it into Russia’s hands. He said he ‘may’ meet with Erdogan at the summit, although a bilateral meeting is not on his official schedule.