Russians Pressure U.S. Forces in Northeast Syria

Russian troops are engaging in standoffs with U.S. troops guarding oil fields and fighting remnants of the Islamic State.

Comments: 166

  1. To all the military vets and GOP hawks who still believe trump has your back: He doesn't. He answers to only 2 people - himself and Putin. All those rallies where he wraps himself in the flag (literally) - It's all a show for his rabid cult, and he couldn't care less about you or America. Yet they cheer on. If my dad and 2 uncles (Dad- 82nd Airborne, Korean War vet, one uncle USMC, fought on Peleliu and Okinawa, and other uncle, US Army, WW2 European theater) were around today, they would not recognize the USA they fought for.

  2. @Mark Answer me this. Why are we protecting Syrian oilfields from the Syrian army?

  3. @mlane You do not address the complaint about Trump wrecking US policy and prestige. But I will go you one better. Answer me this. Now that we are there, however we got there, why would we turn tail and run away?

  4. @Mark Yes, he answers to two people--himself and Bibi. The idea that Trump is under Putin's thumb is nothing but a myth. What has Trump done for Putin? He opposes Nordstream 2. He has fired cruise missiles into Russian-back Syria twice. He has abandoned the Iran nuclear deal which Russia supports. He has provided weapons to Ukraine which even Obama didn't do. Now, what has Trump done for Bibi? He has backed the Israeli theft of the Golan, supported unilateral theft of East Jerusalem, drafted an absurd one-sided "peace plan" that merely gives Israel what it wants, and been waging an undeclared war against Iran on Israel's behalf. Bibi, not Putin, is the svengali who directs Trump's actions.

  5. Last week a very popular Wall Street commentator declared the oil industry to no longer be investable for the long term. The big money is leaving, and our foreign policy should adjust to this new reality.

  6. And when Mr. Trump once again favors the Russians in Qamishli, Syria, to the sheer delight of Vladimir Putin, the republicans in congress will be silent as the grave.

  7. Can anyone explain why US troops are putting their lives at risk guarding Butcher Assad's oil fields for him?

  8. @Ron It's simple, as usual: oil, $$$ and dominance/control/power. Those were and are the American "national interests" everywhere: Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, Iran, Syria....For the last 25 years the US were involved in 188 military interventions around the globe. To "promote democracy" and to "protect human rights" - "american national interests".

  9. @Sergei There was the matter of Serbia during the Clinton administration. There is no real way to say that was about oil or money. Still, that’s the exception to the rule.

  10. We told you this was going to happen.

  11. We will soon see which Trump loves more: Putin or oil. My money is on the former.

  12. @Deutschmann Actually, he loves Israel more than either. And that's our REAL problem in the Middle East

  13. My fear since Trump took control is that he may get our people hurt and he did in Iraq, now Syria could be worse. McConnell and the New Russian-Republicon Party has kept Trump in office so they share the blame.

  14. @Robert Shields As does Obama for putting American troops in Syria to begin with.

  15. To all commentators and the author: 1. On what legal grounds are the US troops presented in Syria? Answer: NONE 2. Whose oil fields are the US troops "protecting"? Answer: SYRIA's (without any permission from it). 3. How does the international law call such actions? Answer: AGRESSION

  16. @Sergei as a resident of Chicago you are familiar with the history of your city? Pretty sure Major General Smedley Butler would call it a racket: a : a fraudulent scheme, enterprise, or activity b : a usually illegitimate enterprise made workable by bribery or intimidation c : an easy and lucrative means of livelihood

  17. If I recall, Syrians were protesting Assad’s policies, and the entire ME was undergoing an “Arab Spring.” We were asked to help when Assad started bombing and gassing his own people, similar to what Saddam Hussein was doing in Iraq decades ago. Am I wrong?

  18. We are feeding the fire just enough fuel to maintain the status quo. Trump was wrong to pull back and then reverse himself. We should either commit to the mission or pull out. Occupying the middle ground is a losing proposition.

  19. My question: what is Russia's endgame in these confrontations? American military leadership seems to understand the short-term goals of these provocations (second to last paragraph). But what is the long-term goal? Drag the US into further involvement? Bait the US into leaving? Non-military motives? Erode foreign confidence in the US? Welcoming all opinions!

  20. @Garrett Russia want's to push the US out of Syria. Putin wants to show the world that he can push the US around and get what he wants. It will strengthen his support Russia, and divert people's concerns from why there are so poor and repressed. It will help him gain support all around the world, and weaken the resolve of America's allies.

  21. Of course, Putin wants to push the US from the area, although not by reason you stated, but rather because the US causes instability in the region that is close to Russian borders, and where Russia has military base.

  22. @atolstoy Thanks! For the thoughtful response and evidence based reporting. I wasn’t trying to point fingers as much as understand the long term goals of all the parties involved. Appreciate your help with that. It makes me wonder if the US military understands the nature of patrolling in areas loyal to Assad? More stand offs are bound to happen with this posture. Are patrols a necessary part of defending infrastructure assets? Do Assad loyalist actually like Russia or is it just more they feel betrayed by the US?

  23. This is the result of trump foreign policy. Get used to it because nobody respects America anymore!

  24. To be fair, it is the result of American policies when nobody is safe from American invasion.

  25. @yulia to be honest, this is a result of nation-states imposing a form of government alien to the people living there at the time, nearly 100 years ago to the day. Google the Treaty of Sèvres.

  26. @Polsonpato How can you respect a country that funds al-Qaeda terrorists as a way to carry out regime change?

  27. Why doesn't Trump contact his "friend" and straighten this out? Or would that be the tail wagging the dog?

  28. Get out now! Let them have it. We weren't invited and we don't own it.

  29. @notimes These colors don't run. Unless Putin say so.

  30. Unanswered question: If the idea is to let Putin protect Assad, why can’t the Russians protect Assad’s oil fields from ISIS?

  31. @Harry They certainly can, but don't want to come into the military conflict with the US troops. It is the Syria's territory, those are Syria's oil fields. The US troops are "protecting" those oil field (american "national interests" are always where oil and $$$ are!) illegally, without any permission from Syria, (its like Syria's troops will "protect" some oil fields in Texas!).

  32. @Sergei The Syrian government doesn't and can't control the entirety of their country. They can't control rebel groups, they can't control ISIS remnants, and thus three seperate foriegn powers (as well as countless local militias) roam the lawless areas around the Iraqi and Turkish borders.

  33. @JT If the Russians are sparring with the Americans as the latter "protect" the oil fields, doesn't it seem reasonable that the Russians can just as well protect the oil fields? The oil belongs to Syria, but Russia basically owns Syria now. It makes absolutely no sense that we need to be there. It might have made sense before Trump pulled out and left it to the Russians and Turks, but not now. Or is this just Trump's fig leaf?

  34. There is no positive spin on this situation. We should pull out. Are the oil fields ours? Nope. The troops are though and the threat to them is real.

  35. The sooner we get out, the better. What is this nonsense about protecting oil fields. Let the Syrains and Russians do that.

  36. “Oilfields” is code for “Kurds”. Trump was pilloried for abandoning the Kurds in the area who have been staunch US allies. The 500 US troops are his fig leaf presence. Glad will get what he wants. We all know that...,for the next year anyway.

  37. The Stable Genius destabilizing another region in the Middle East. Reporting on the collateral destabilization of Jordan likely under the "peace" plan being shopped with Netanyahu's base and the settlements faction promises more. Even though that plan is being treated as DOA, it still registers as insult, threat, and contempt for Palestinians, Arab Israelis, Jordanians... How can this sort of "policy" be condoned by the Senate? If Trump vetoes the bill that sets a firm boundary for his power to declare war, overtly or effectively, with Iran and the Senate can't muster an over-riding vote, where are we on the continuum from representative democracy to authoritarian regime?

  38. @Tadidino No, "Putin's Puppet" is standing up to Assad and his Russian protectors, and not turning over the oil to the dictator or to ISIS. That oil belongs to the Syrian people, not to the dictator nor to the terrorists. We are guarding it FOR the Syrian people who will someday return home to finally get the Democatic regime they deserve and have longed for for decades.

  39. Since when do we protect oil for other people? What a joke!

  40. This of all things should inform any red blooded trump supporter that something is seriously wrong with trump and so called patriotism.

  41. American troops stop at Syrian army checkpoints! Do they teach about such situations at West Point? If so what is the approved way to proceed?

  42. Wait...we're almost in a shooting war with Russia? When were you all going to tell us that?

  43. @Justin Actually, the Russian military police units saved the american unit that was lost and had a rough confrontation with Kurds in this area. 14 years old unarmed Kurd teenager was killed by american troops and one woman was injured. Russian units saved the american troops and were able to resolve the conflict.

  44. @Sergei Actually a purple unicorn saved them. True story.

  45. Why do you say he was Kurdish? It was an Arab village. Here is how the Guardian describes it: "The hamlet of Khirbet Ammu, just east of Qamishli, was one such place; Syrian flags at its entrance displaying the area’s fealty. The Arab village, along with a network of nearby roads and the city’s airport, had remained a no-go zone for opponents of Bashar al-Assad. Even neighbouring Kurds are hesitant to enter without good reason."

  46. No, "Putin's Puppet" is standing up to Assad and his Russian protectors, and not turning over the oil to the dictator or to ISIS. That oil belongs to the Syrian people, not to the dictator nor to the terrorists. We are guarding it FOR the Syrian people who will someday return home to finally get the Democratic regime they deserve and have longed for for decades.

  47. @Jgarbuz M8, You don't actually believe that do you? In the world I live in that oil will be used to make sure the Kurds do as they are told, But most of it will line the pockets of the political elites and their friends.

  48. @Jgarbuz "that oil belongs to the Syrian people." True, that is why US troops are there to take it away from them. Just like in Iraq. The only good thing you can say about that is that it didn't work in Iraq, where due to Iraqi hatred of the US occupiers the Iraqis prefer foreign investment in oil from anyone else, preferably US enemies, and won't work in Syria either.

  49. @PHIL It should not be handed over to anyone until there is a final peace settlement in Syria,and Assad is hanged or leaves.

  50. Our Troops can’t do half a mission. It’s either all in or get out. Trump responded to strong criticism of his stupid decision to pull our troops out so the Turks could move in by arbitrarily sending some of them to guard Syrian oil fields. This was done to placate his critics. Now our troops are exposed to retaliation and are too few in number to effectively resist. 500 troops is basically two companies plus spare change. Furthermore, it’s common knowledge that Trump often folds when challenged. He’s a loud mouthed braggart whose threats are mostly bluffs. Mr Trump has repeatedly stated he wants our troops out of the Middle East; he’s simultaneously pimping for war with Iran and threatening Iraq with sanctions if the Iraqi parliament asks us to withdraw our troops. It’s obvious Trump has no strategy or guiding policy. He’s all about reacting to events; therefore events control him. Our adversaries know that they can apply pressure with impunity and keep on pushing until Trump eventually folds.

  51. @JohnDoe Yes, and remember that the last time our troops were attacked with an Iranian missile, we did nothing. Our troops in Syria are sitting ducks., thanks to our feckless president.

  52. Did Syria ask USA to come and occupy parts of its territory? Instead of spending the “Afghani trillions” outside Afghanistan ,USA should spend its energy at home. One nice fallout of forgoing the endless ,nutritious ,enriching ,and self serving wars for some vested interest groups is that the presidential candidates will be forced to face the concerns of the voters and will not be able to hide behind the jingoism of war . No new destructive political career will be built on war .Instead a decent patriotic sensible platform underpinning the campaign for leadership will be built .

  53. The Americans don’t even need to be there. You can’t win any wars over there with the trouble maker Russia and Syria so we need to leave. All it will take is a hot headed US Republican supporting soldier to start shooting Russians then Putin will launch his hypersonic missile and in 30 minutes were dead.

  54. Soldiers will be soldiers - it's not all politics with them and hot-headed ones can be any party.

  55. Putin pulls Trump's puppet strings. What else do you need to know about this situation?

  56. @Irish How do you take a story in which the the Trump administration is working to undermine the Russian-backed Syrian government and somehow manage to mangle to the point where it fits your absurd notion that Trump is dancing to Putin's tune? It's amazing that no matter how much empirical evidence there is to the contrary, some people are so in love with the Trump-as-Putin's-puppet meme that they can't bear to part with it. There are so many legitimate grounds on which to criticize Trump. Why pick this nonsense?

  57. trumps version of makeing america great! From the greatest nation on earth to one that not trusted, & caters to puttins wishes who is the only winner since trumps election

  58. @Joe If we were catering to Putin's wishes, we wouldn't be in Syria now. Whatever we are doing, it's NOT catering to Putin's wishes.

  59. One thing that's still not clear to me, though, is how our oil got under their sand.

  60. Only one side--i.e., Russian troops--is there by invitation.

  61. QUIZ: a) Trump’s incompetence is huge. b)Trump is a Russian asset. c)Trump doesn’t care if our troops are in danger or killed.

  62. Why are we guarding oil fields in Syria?

  63. The US is an illegal occupier on Syrian land ... 'protecting the oil fields' -- for corporate American oil interests? ... The first is a war crime and the second may be as well.

  64. How is Trump financially benefiting from the U.S. occupation of Syrian oil fields?

  65. Russia pressures everything everywhere, including Washington D.C.

  66. Russia: Invited by Syria to be there. The U.S.: Invited by no one, just started bombing and moving troops in, attempted to remove democratically elected president of a sovereign nation.

  67. Invited by Assad, who has butchered his own people when they dared criticize him or ask for more openness or opposition candidates.

  68. Assad is the Government of Syria and has much more wide support than Sunni rebels.

  69. @Laume : You mean like Saudi Arabia?

  70. Syria's oil production peak is a little over 600bbd, and is nowhere near that now. Hardly worth our blood to protect, and certainly not worth risking WWIII for.

  71. Any previous President would have picked up the phone by now and had a heart to heart with Putin. Trump, instead, will likely bug out of both Syria and Afghanistan. The full price of abandoning the Kurds is going to be felt long and wide.

  72. When Trump has talked about keeping those 500 soldiers in Syria, he says "we've got the oil". I frankly think he doesn't understand that we aren't taking ownership of that oil, that our soldiers are protecting it for Syria. I assume that, after demanding the initial pullout from the Kurdish areas, someone pointed out oil fields in the region, so Trump ordered some soldiers to remain as he thought we could somehow take that oil.

  73. The sad fact is, the US and Turkey are still pushing for regime change, and are still backing al-Qaeda affiliates, in the effort started by the Obama/Clinton administration. They wasted half a billion of our tax dollars on this deadly fiasco, and destroyed Syria in the process. When does this madness, this horrible farce stop??? It's been in plain view for years now...Israel buying millions of dollars of oil from ISIS, American money funding al-Qaeda...this is criminal at a very high level. Millions of Syrian refugees and tens of thousands of innocent dead, plus dozens of destroyed cities were doing just fine before the US stuck its nose into Syria, to oust Assad. STOP!!!!!!!

  74. We don’t have the mightiest military in the world if it’s unwisely deployed. Another reason to vote out Trump. According to Rex Tillerson he’s “dumb as a rock.”

  75. Russian President Trump is taking direct orders from Putin and the he US troops will stand down soon not to worry.

  76. How do we know that this isn’t just being filmed at a secure location somewhere in New Mexico? And if it isn’t, maybe it should be. There’s no reason why strategic fantasies need to be shot on location.

  77. This is unfortunately emboldening Russian troops and the rest of the world. They can abuse American forces and they won't retaliate. It's not good for moral of our forces and it's not good for America's image in the world. Trump's actions have severely damaged the image of the US in the world, and are putting US forces in danger everywhere in the world. --If the Russians can do it in Syria, why can't others everywhere else? There's now no easy solution to this sad state of affairs. Had Trump left things as they were, we wouldn't be in this state.

  78. What are the US troops doing in Syria? It is away to far from the US borders. Do you think the US has the right to harass other countries and expect warm welcome?

  79. @TMah The Russians in Syria and the Iranians in Iraq. I'm sure "Little Rocket Man" is taking note.

  80. @TMah Syria is and always has been Russia's ally. So what? We are only there for one stupid reason...regime change..on behalf of horrific jihadists. Why else would the US fund al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria? Wake up and pay attention!

  81. Without clear support and guidance from the White House and President, this is a highly volatile situation 24/7. One misguided tweet from the president will get our troops killed. There is no reason with the capability of the US Military, the support of NATO, what should be the absolute support of NATO ally Turkey; that US Forces should be forced to back down to supposed Russian peacekeepers, Syrians and Russian mercenaries. What we do here and the choices and judgement by the White House with the informed advice of the pentagon, field commanders and the CIA and State Department will either demonstrate we hold fast in a face to face standoff with Russia or retreat globally for a long time to come and be the paper tiger some believe we are becoming. The White House and President have us on a precipice. Act with leadership on the counsel of the resources of the US and allies, stand fast and stand up.

  82. “Might makes right” — what could possibly go wrong, during this confrontation?

  83. @William Dusenberry "..what could possibly go wrong, during this confrontation?" Now that our traitorous president has weakened the position of our troops there, I guess we're about to find out.

  84. @Peter Murray So what we have here is what happens when one leader owes another money. Just in case you have been sleeping trump owes money to both countries and just like in Ukraine trump is only loyal to his money. I think that real patriot republicans will vote in droves for the right democrat candidate and if that does not happen they will just stay home if the right democrats for them does not emerge from the primaries. It is no longer hyperbole that this president is very dangerous.

  85. It's really fascinating to me that me have this giant military force unparalleled anywhere else in the world and yet we get pushed around by a nation with an economy smaller than California's (Russia). Not really a good sign in my book.

  86. @Mike You can thank the Democrats for that. They call Trump "Putin's Puppet" but he is not standing down in the face of their mini-aggressions just as he does not stand down against the aggressions of the Democratic Party either.

  87. @Jgarbuz The Democrats are the Commander in Chief? Who knew?

  88. @Jgarbuz So what is your best guess about the content of the discussion between Putin and Trump alone in a room for 2 hrs with no note takers?

  89. The US thinks it outrageous that the legal government of an independent country wants to control all of its own territory. What's wrong with this picture? Syrian national elections may not be totally free and fair, but there are no national elections at all in the West's great ally Saudi Arabia.

  90. @nepacific Syria was progressive, modern and Western oriented, until the West decided it wanted to oust Assad and install religious nut cases to replace him. Everything is wrong with this picture, including the use of American tax dollars to fund it. It's criminal.

  91. @Karekin I am not sure how progressive it was for Assad to crush Syrians who protested his government. That is what led to the brutal civil war. That is what led Obama's Secretary of State to want to oust Assad and replace him with the aforementioned religious nutcases, er... "moderate rebels." Stupid, arrogant, ill-considered. But it wasn't purely for bad purposes.

  92. US foreign-policy makes perfect sense we start with its operating principle: we own the world.

  93. Because oil companies can't afford their own mercenaries, right?

  94. Well, the US troops aren't legally in Syria, while the Russian troops are.

  95. That depends on whether you consider Assad’s reign of terror, torture, and murder is a legitimate government or not.

  96. @Ben Do you consider Sisi's government of terror, torture and murder in Egypt a legitimate government? You know, the guy who overthrew the only democratically elected leader Egypt has had in 5,000 years. It's funny how concerned about dictatorship we are in regard to Syria and how unconcerned we are about dictators elsewhere.

  97. When your mission is not clear there is no hope of success. Like everything else in this administration, incompetence rules the day.

  98. @Frank Mission not clear? Trump actually let the military do their job and wipe 98% of ISIS out. The last administration could have nipped it in the bud, but instead chose to let them grow. The consequences were 1,000’s of religious artifacts destroyed, and millions of people killed.

  99. @Frank It seems to me : The original plan was to get rid of a "Thug government" Assad. Now we are protecting Oil

  100. @Frank Agreed, but what exactly was our mission there before the orange creature entered the Oval Office? Did we have clarity and purpose then? I can't recall.

  101. Big picture, especially watching the video about the refugees fleeing, is that deposing dictators in the Middle East has a huge civilian costs. After the 2nd Gulf War, that should have been clear to the world. Allowing Bashir to rule Syria is the least worst option. The country has become a battleground for proxies (Iran vs Saudi Arabia; US vs Russia). The entire world should back out of Syria and bringing in relief supplies. I wish this wasn't the case, but long & protracted battles are horrible. When Germany rolled through Europe, civilians in countries who lost quickly (Holland, France) were better off than those in Eastern Russia where the battle drew to a stalemate.

  102. If there's a confrontation between the US and Russia, I suggest they actually fight. If the US has all the chops Trump claims, why won't he actually demonstrate them, rather than posture? A little "toe to toe" never hurt anyone, did it?

  103. What’s the problem? Congress alone has the right to declare war. Congress re-asserted this right with a bipartisan vote this week. If Congress believes that the U.S. should go to war to defend our chunk of occupied Syria, then they should have a public debate and vote. Stop whining about President Trump and force him to go to war in Syria. And if Congress is unwilling to vote for war, then they should explicitly vote for a full withdrawal. Either way, Congress must make a decision and end the current ambiguous strategy that puts our soldiers at risk.

  104. As a close ally of America we have fought with the USA in every conflict it's been involved in since the start of the 20th century, almost lockstep with the US actually. But when Trump pulled the troops out and abandoned the Kurds, there was a worry about our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and our naval ships in the Gulf of Hormuz on blockade duties and our airforce in various fields of action. Then the 500 troops sent to guard oilfields just didn't make sense. The killing of the Iranian general put American troops in danger in Iraq and by association our country's troops and other countries troops. We waited 3 years to get an American ambassador and that snub along with the totally weird foreign policy of the Trump administration has now led to questioning of why our military is following America's and how strong is our alliance? There is doubt that Trump would help if we were in need, doubt that Trump would support us or help us. The trust has gone and only doubt remains at this point in time. The winner out of this policy vacuum seems to be Russia.

  105. How about Donald Trump calling Vladimir Putin and telling him to back off? A normal, concerned commander in chief would do that, as well as make sure that American soldiers are protected and have clear orders, wherever in the world they are. It is now up to our military commanders to make sure our soldiers are properly directed. And I would expect that none of them would place fear of Donald Trump over the lives of their troops.

  106. Why do we even still have 500 American soldiers in Syria? What in the world are we doing over there? What is their mission? What can 500 soldiers do against the forces of Russia, Turkey, Assad, ISIS and various other militias? What threats to Americans are we protecting from? Let Russia have the booby prize of ISIS and putting Syria back together.

  107. US post-WWII global hegemony has rested on three interacting aspects: 1) unrivaled military power, 2) control of world's energy reserves, and 3) maintaining the dollar as the world's reserve currency. All of the pillars supporting US power are now breaking down from decades of neo-liberal economic policies, spending vast sums of money on the military and war and more recently, attainment of near economic and military parity by China and Russia. Syria is centrally located and bordered by Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Iraq and Jordan and has been in the crosshairs of US foreign policy for over a decade, as pointed out by General Wesley Clark in his 2007 interview with Amy Goodman. Despite despite investing massive amounts of human and financial capital for nearly 2 decades (> $6 Trillion of taxpayer money), the Pentagon is incapable of extricating itself from Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan, as doing so is an admission of failure and by implication, military weakness. Link: “We’re Going to Take out 7 Countries in 5 Years; Link:

  108. Well, good thing Trump didn't collude with Russia on the election or anything. It's sure nice knowing, according to Barr, that there was nothing unseemly there. I am certain Trump will not kowtow to Putin on this. You're all with me on this, right? .....right? ....anyone?

  109. Add to this - a decent Commander-in-Chief - not a cowardly, or worse yet a quasi-Manchurian-controlled one - Putin's lapdog - his "boy" - as yet another reason why the first three priorities in the November election are 1) Defeat Trump; 2) Defeat Trump; and 3) Defeat Trump.

  110. Can anyone please explain what US troops are doing in Northern and Southern Syria? "Protecting" oil fields? Or occupying them on behalf of who? Who are selling the oil from these areas? After all the US troops are not on Syrian soil with any legal mandate whatsoever. After the US betrayed your Kurdish allies and sold them out to a Turkish invasion in northern Syria, no one trust the US, and there are no reasons to expect any kind of viable strategy from your current administration. The Syrian regime change operation was as ill conceived and stupidly executed as any other US military adventure in the Middle East for the last 70 years. Read your own history:

  111. Trump abandoned the Kurds. “We” didn’t. It’s not really about oil.

  112. It must be pretty tough to be a US soldier dealing with Russian harassment when our own president is on the side of the Russians...

  113. @Richard Ralph What’s even tougher to acknowledge — on the parts of Dems and ‘progressives’ — is that the entire Russia theme is complete nonsense. If Trump had offered Putin post-election flexibility on an open mic as a recent president actually did and then canceled US missile defense in Eastern Europe as part of the ‘deal’ then they’d have a case.

  114. Is it not horrible that Russian forces, supported by Syria’s Christian and Alawite minorities, are interfering with America’s self-appointed role as World Policeman? This is truly an outrage!

  115. Russians are supported by the butcher Assad. They share similar views about power and the ends justifying the means.

  116. American lives should not be in Syria defending oil fields! Let the Russians defend the Syrian government. Putin will pay for that move. But we need to remove all troops from that benighted territory.

  117. I've been opposed to U.S. troops in Syria since Obama first authorized their deployment. Now we have a small contingent of Americans in harm's way guarding Syrian oil fields that don't belong to us. This feeds right into the Islamist narrative the U.S. is only there to steal Mideast oil. Russia, Iran, Turkey and the Assad regime are all enemies of Islamic State. Let them mop up the remnants of I.S. and get our troops out of there.

  118. With what rights and for whose benefit are the US troops operating in Syria? US troops there are keeping Syrian old field away from the Syrian government and firing on Syrian forces fighting ISIS in the area. All taking together it seems like it is a situation of “you have oil? It’s mine now” There is no legal justification for the US to have forces in Syria, a sovereign state and member of UN. The Russians are there at the invitation of the Syrian government to fight ISIS. Who invited the US?

  119. The rebels wanted us there. Especially the Kurds. Better than Assad and his murderous torture regime.

  120. Rebels wanted Russia in Ukraine, why there are sanctions on Russia?

  121. We should get out of Syria and everywhere else where we have American troops. We should get back to protecting our borders with our armed forces and nothing more. I think there should be no such concept as "American interests abroad." We should pull in our horns and just be America and pay the price that will cost. The savings in our military costs will far outweigh us being "isolationist" All of this world-wide USA military presence is just a futile effort to preserve the fast-declining "King Dollar."

  122. There is little else to do now but protect the lives of personnel there and withdraw completely from Syria and let the Syrians and Russians fight over it. That's what Trump wanted to do anyway. Trump precipitously announced via Twitter he was withdrawing troops and egregiously abandoned loyal Kurdish allies. Any intelligent leader would have consulted with his many advisers, had a feasible plan for withdrawal and above all, would have consulted with the Kurds. But this is not an intelligent leader so now American will be essentially forced to withdraw.

  123. This is what happens when we have a President in office who makes decisions based on emotions. Decisions need to made on analytics and evidence. The President has surrounded himself with yes people and I squarely blame the US senate for confirming his appointees. Time and again he has failed to understand the complex world we live in. He doesn’t seem to understand his decisions have real world consequences that will affect America long after he leaves office. But we as Americans can only blame ourselves for him being elected to the highest office of the land with absolutely no political experience what so every. I squarely placed blame on those who voted for him and those who stood home on the of the day election thinking Hilary Clinton was going to be elected.

  124. The Russians are Trump's friends, not friends of the US or its military. What happens with our forces in NE Syria going forward depends almost entirely on the whims of a poorly informed and erratic US commander in chief. To the extent local Russian and Syrian forces act out on their own, a quick smack down by the US might set things straight. But it's more likely Putin, Assad, and Erdogan want the US out of the way entirely and are trying to make our stay untenable.

  125. You yanks started this war and it'll end when you leave. Keep your noses out of other countries business. Just leave already. Put your forts in Israel and Saudi Arabia, and leave the rest of the middle east alone.

  126. Despite his strutting and bloviating in front of his cult-like followers at campaign rallies, Trump is a weak and subservient leader. Putin and all of Russia know this.

  127. Hey, any excuse to get us out of Syria is fine by me.

  128. “D.T., call Vlad!”

  129. Trump is the Duh President- Duh! Trump kowtowed to Turkey - a signal of weakness so no surprise troops are on the defensive. Duh - Russia is not going to let the US have the Syrian oil fields it earned by backing Syria. Trump owns the debacle. Ukraine will be next - the geriatric duo of Trump and Giuliani made the US the laughing stock of the region. Duh!

  130. So why isn't Putin's poodle doing anything to protect U.S. troops in Syria?

  131. @Christy What has Trump done that makes you think he's a "poodle" of Putin. His administration has mostly taken actions against the interests of Russia.

  132. The Kremlin propaganda is strong in the comments here. Hey Russians, look on the bright side. The longer the civil war lasts the more weapons you can sell to Assad.

  133. The usual false Trump - Putin boilerplate herein. Sigh... Where were all these patriots when Barack Obama offered Putin post-election flexibility on an open mic and then canceled US missile defense in Eastern Europe afterwards?

  134. This constant Russian pressure is essentially Putin humiliating Trump repeatedly. It's the same thing Alpha dogs do to show their dominance over other dogs. And, Trump acquiesces (like a good submissive dog) allowing these humiliations of our troops and flag to stand without comment.

  135. What do you mean by "protect[ing] the oilfields"? "Protect" the Syrian oilfields so the Syrian government cannot use their own oil and Syrians freeze to death in winter? Prevent the Syrian government from controlling all of Syria and its resources so we can use their land as a base for terrorists and their resources to arm and pay them while enriching our oil/weapons companies and politicians? You know why the leader of ISIS was in the same area as our troops? Perhaps you could explain why ISIS is only present where we are in Syria? We all know that our government has no shame. But do you have to use the same language as our government without explaining what it really means?

  136. This admin would mess up a game of checkers & trump isn't smart enough to play chess with a 5 year old, much less putin. Trump's grand plan to help turkey (our EX-ally) and putin, a sworn enemy, will get some of our guys killed. If that happens, the spineless GOP will be responsible along with him.

  137. The Americans have no right to be in Syria. No one should blame Syrians for trying to throw out hostile invaders. The Americans deserve thanks for getting rid of ISIS but that does not mean they can occupy a country's territory.

  138. Heck, just let Putin have the ME. The Republicans seem fine to disengage from that region. They only support the Saudis and Israel; everything else is oil and sand to them. Best we get out and stop exploiting that region. Let Russia wear down their own military in endless conflicts there. Until we have another humanitarian as President, all we do is harm.

  139. President Obama, not President Trump, put U.S. forces into Syria after waffling on what constituted a red line. Why are we still there?

  140. Trump will claim there is no choice but to leave so Russia can patrol the area for Syria. Ultimately, Americans will have died for nothing and that is what the surviving Americans will do about it and about Trump. Americans surrender their country to an ongoing Republican subversion campaign that undermines institutions to strengthen its position in preparation to overthrowing US. Those who claim this is wrong should explain to the rest of US why it is not happening, isn't happening, and won't happen by explaining just who will stop them?

  141. The Russians and Syrians must be under the impression that US troops will be ordered to cut and run at the merest provocation, or something. Where did they get that idea?

  142. @Peter Well, mostly they are under the impression that the US has no business being in Syria. And they're absolutely right!

  143. The oil fields in Syria belong to the UN-recognized Syrian Government. The United States military has absolutely no right to occupy or "defend" them whatsoever, or being inside Syria for any reason. The Russian military, on the other hand, is invited by the Syrian government, and thus have a legitimate presence in Syria. Get out of Syria!

  144. Why are American soldiers still in Syria? Who on earth are they protecting oil for, and why is it America's problem anyway? Assad has won the civil war. It is over. Withdraw now. Let Assad deal with ISIS.

  145. @A Cynic For and Israel-dominated US, it's never "over." Yes, the attempt to overthrow Assad failed. But given the relentless use of economic warfare that the US has embarked on globally, it should be no surprise that it is being used against Syria in an attempt to retrieve victory from strategic defeat. Preventing the Syrian government from using oil revenue for rebuilding is designed to sow new discontent as another way of forcing Assad out--largely at the behest of Israel of course. It's the same reason we have tried to obstruct the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under the North Sea from Russia to Germany.

  146. so now we have rocks in addition to potatoes thrown at our troops. trump is doing all he can to drag us down. the more he does so, putin gets stronger and trump's debt to russian oligarchs drops. do the math.

  147. US policy in Syria, if it can even be called a policy, is a confused mess - especially after trump’s bungled cut and run manoeuvre last year. What are the political and military objectives and why are our troops being put in harms way?

  148. A political disaster on an international scale. This is the picture one gets when incompetent politicians are trying to play generals and putting military at an unnecessary risk with questionable political motives, empowering other international players to take advantage of a situation created by pure political incompetence. Either we want to fight IS and then do so with a proper international alliance, full political commitment and a plan for the affected countries/ people to rebuild a stable structured region worth living in, or we just leave it be. ~ 500 U.S. soldiers in an unstable environment, surrounded by a Syrian / Russian alliance troops in the thousands as well as thousands of Turkish troops with their own political agenda. We all have seen how much of a worthy NATO partner Turkey really is... let us hope they all do come back to their families safely and are not just tokens for a political game played by corrupt and incompetent politicians. It is just a big mess that has been created by the West in the entire North African and Middle Eastern region over that last decades...not only Syria.

  149. No matter, how you spin it, the inconvenient truth is, that American troops have absolutely no legal basis to be on Syrian territory. Nobody invited them in. Idlib is a terrorist wasp’s nest from where attacks are constantly launched against other (liberated) parts of the country. The US should be on the right side of history at least on this one. The Syrians (and the Iraqis and the Iranians and the Venezuelans, just to name a few) deserve it.

  150. Trump has wanted nothing more than to turn our US military forces into a mercenary army. He wants nothing more than to sacrifice the lives of young Americans for oil and real estate that he sees as a benefit -- not for the nation -- but for himself and the russian oligarchy that he so salivates over to join.

  151. The US troops will back down. A symbolic gesture to trump's handler. We know who is in charge.

  152. US military has no legal justification and also no business to remain in Syria. They are nothing but an illegal occupying force with ill-defined goals and rules of engagement. That is a disaster waiting to happen and when it does it will be 100% America's fault. The Syrian civil war is over. Assad has wan it and US has no choice but to accept that fact and get out of Syria ASAP. Trump's initial instinct was right on the money, but deranged warmongers in both parties forced him to reverse the correct course. Now much strengthened Trump should enforce his original decision and withdraw - then there will be no problems with the Russians or anyone else.

  153. Problem is trump is weak and the Russians know it. He got played by Iran now it’s Russia turn.

  154. Sounds like some Russians and Syrians are about to get taught another lesson

  155. @Marcin Who will teach the lesson? Trump with his military knowledge and wisdom?

  156. We abandoned our decades-long allies, the courageous Kurds, and many American soldiers over there were ashamed of our government for our blatant desertion of staunch friends. And now we ask our fine young soldiers to stand and die for oil! Disgusting.

  157. This is a policy without foresight. Instead of protecting oil we should be thinking about protecting Kurdish autonomy in Syria. Does Trump not see what comes next? What will we do when the Russians, The Turks, and Assad all team up to go after the Kurds?

  158. War between Turkey and Syria unfolding in slow motion. Russia to the rescue of Syria. What happens to the last Trump 500 US soldiers stuck in Syria? NATO member Turkey to demand US military help. Russia and US need to talk before its too late. After all they got us into this humanitarian disaster after US insisted on the downfall of the Syrian government; regime change?

  159. Interesting article which oddly does not explain why the American military is in Syria. Russia is there at the request of the internationally recognised government of Syria. The article appears to state that the US military is protecting oilfields, but does not state on who's authority they are doing this and whom they are protecting them from. Also there is no mention of who they are protecting them for. A cynic might think that this 'protection mission' is a cover for stealing natural resources. A progressive probably thinks oilfields are a persecuted minority in need of the caring embrace of the US military. I wonder, which is right? Comment posted Saturday 09.25 GMT.

  160. There seems to be some confusion amongst the commentariat with regards to the situation in Syria. The UN Charter is binding international law. It’s US constitutional law under the Supremacy Clause (Article 6, Clause 2). Article 51 of the UN Charter prohibits military action by one country
 against another except in self-defense or only with Security Council
 authorization. That's why Libya was "legal" (albeit immoral) and Iraq and Syria illegal. Then we have the US Constitution in which only Congress can declare war. Congress never authorized troops in Syria. We are in Syria illegally, have no Security Council mandate to be there, were not invited by the internationally recognized government, nor did Congress approve it. An illegal presence on all fronts. Why is this, apparently, so difficult to understand?

  161. I have been closely following the conflict in this area but I have yet to see a map clarifying some a agreement on a division of spheres of influence. On the contrary, in pro-Russian/Syrian media you regularly read about US troops turning up in places where they haven't been for months. Just last week they established a new base in one of the cities in the area. There have been several confrontations near Tal Tamr in the West of the area. In this area the Syrian troops have been very busy to keep the pro-Turkish troops away from ethnically cleansing the Assyrian Christian population. It is a bit puzzling what the US troops were aiming to do there as this isn't an oil area but it is a traffic hub. This article strikes me as a "we must write something" effort after US troops killed a 14-year old boy. It would like to see the Times diving deeper and looking what is really happening. The article mentions the February 2018 incident where US troops killed some 200-300 people. It was regrettable that the Times never took effort to investigate that incident. Later the German Spiegel published a locally researched report that contradicted many of the claim of the US Army. I hope the Times will do better this time.

  162. The article accurately points out ...’American soldiers have an ill defined mission in Syria...’ We don’t belong there - it’s always been supported by Russia and shows no signs of not wanting that support to continue. The US has wasted too many lives and spent too much money - Allied Forces’ bombings have decimated several cities and displaced hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. As an American I’m saddened to see what we’ve done to’s a wasteland. Our Country should stop being a terrorizing force in the Middle East - we’ve made the region more unstable than it’s ever been.

  163. I appreciate the coverage that the NYT gives us. This situation was predicted and it will continue to erode. If Putin decides he wants to confront trump he will. There is nothing to stop him now. He knows that testing the line of engagement will not get a response from trump after what happened in Iran when 109 soldiers and millions in damage from missiles did not get a response. Putin now knows that in an election year trump will not escalate, as long as he just fudges the line. It seems quite odd that the TV talking heads do not even bring up the mater. trump is a very weak individual and can not be trusted and Putin knows it.

  164. Of course the Russians are there at the invitation of the Syrian government. US sent in their forces in violation of the Charter of the United Nations.

  165. We just need to leave Syria immediately. We have no strategy and no vital interests there.