Iran and Russia against Trump’s decision of maintaining US military presence near Syrian oil fields

Russian foreign minister says exploitation of resources in Syria would be illegal

Iran and Russia have condemned US President Donald Trump’s decision to maintain a military presence near oil fields in north-eastern Syria, following the killing of the Islamic State's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a US military raid.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said any exploitation of resources would be illegal, while the US claims that strengthening its military presence in Syria would prevent Islamic State fighters seizing oil fields and revenue.

Addressing the issue at a news conference in Geneva, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said to laughter: “Well, it seems that the United States is staying to protect the oil. And at least President Trump is honest to say what the United States intends to do.”

He added: “Iran and Russia are there on the invitation of the Syrian government and we intend to stay there as long as the Syrian government and Syrian people want us to be there.”

This follows President Trump saying on Monday, “What I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly... and spread out the wealth.”

US defense secretary Mark Esper says the military's oil field mission will ensure income for Syrian Kurds who are counted on by Washington to continue guarding Islamic State prisoners and helping American forces combat remnants of the group.

"The United States will retain control of oil fields in north-east Syria," Esper said, as security in Syria still “remains complex”.

Islamic State is likely to choose a successor to Baghdadi, but what is more significant for its operations is the situation in the north-west and the north-east of Syria, the BBC said.

President Trump said Baghdadi was in Idlib when he was killed because he was trying to rebuild IS there.

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