Trump OKs Wider Syria Oil Mission, Raising Legal Questions

U.S. military convoy drives the he town of Qamishli, north Syria, by a poster showing Syrain President Bashar Aassad Saturday, Oct. 26. 2019. A U.S. convoy of over a dozen vehicles was spotted driving south of the northeastern city of Qamishli, likely heading to the oil-rich Deir el-Zour area where there are oil fields, or possibly to another base nearby. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, also reported the convoy, saying it arrived earlier from Iraq. (AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad)

U.S. officials say President Donald Trump has approved an expanded military mission to secure an expanse of oil fields across eastern Syria. That raises a number of difficult legal questions about whether U.S. troops can launch strikes against Syrian, Russian or other forces if they threaten the oil.

The decision comes after a meeting Friday between Trump and his defense leaders. It locks hundreds of U.S. troops into a more complicated presence in Syria, despite Trump’s vow to get America out of the war.

Under the new plan troops would protect a large swath of land controlled by Syrian Kurdish fighters that stretches nearly 90 miles from Deir el-zour to al-Hassakeh.

Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about ongoing deliberations.