President Trump says 'we're doing very well' in Syria, Turkey
Trump continued to defend his handling of the conflict in Syria.
"We're doing very well in Syria with Turkey and everybody else that we're dealing with. We have secured the oil. We have a lot of oil," Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday. "We just did a great thing in Syria where we're getting our troops out. We took over oil."
The president’s latest comments came as the Pentagon considers a plan that would possibly keep some U.S. troops in eastern Syria, in addition to supplying heavy weaponry to assist the troops in their defense of the oil fields in the region. On Wednesday, Trump seemed to signal support for the proposal at a cabinet meeting, claiming it's not necessary to keep American troops in Syria, "other than that we secure the oil."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed the U.S. will use some mechanized forces, which could include tanks, to protect the oil fields.
"We are now taking some actions, I’m not going to get into the details, to strengthen our position in Dayr az Zawr to ensure that we can deny ISIS access to the oil fields, because we want to make sure they don’t have access to the resources that may allow them to strike within the region, to strike Europe, to strike the United States. Otherwise all of the other forces are intended to be returned home," Esper said at a press conference in Brussels on Friday.
Esper said he's spoken with Turkey's defense minister who confirmed Turkish forces have taken control of ISIS prisons and have recaptured some but not all of the estimated 100 escaped ISIS prisoners.
Earlier in the day Trump repeated his statements that troops that have left Syria will be returning to the U.S., even as some are stationed to protect oil fields near Turkey.
“Our soldiers have left and are leaving Syria for other places, then COMING HOME!" Trump tweeted.
Trump is not folding under bipartisan pressure and criticism to shy away from removing troops from Syria. He also added, in all caps, that oil and ISIS in the region is “secured” without going into details on what exactly that means.
Trump on Thursday vowed in a tweet that ISIS would never have control of the oil fields in eastern Syria, suggesting that Kurds should maybe protect the fields.
“We will NEVER let a reconstituted ISIS have those fields!” Trump said on Twitter, using an acronym for a group that the U.S. military and Syrian Kurdish forces have largely defeated. “Perhaps it is time for the Kurds to start heading to the Oil Region!”
ABC News' Luis Martinez contributed to this report.