(Associated Press) LOLITA C. BALDOR November 6 2019 WASHINGTON President Donald Trump has approved an expanded military mission to secure an expanse of oil fields across eastern Syria raising 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 U.S. officials said. The decision coming after a meeting Friday between Trump and his defense leaders locks hundreds of U.S. troops into a more complicated presence in Syria despite the presidents 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 (150 kilometers) from Deir el-Zour to al-Hassakeh but its exact size is still being determined. Officials said many details still have to be worked out. But Trumps decision hands commanders a victory in their push to remain in the country to prevent any resurgence of the Islamic State group counter Iran and partner with the Kurds who battled IS alongside the U.S. for several years. But it also forces lawyers in the Pentagon to craft orders for the troops that could see them firing on Syrian government or Russian fighters trying to take back oil facilities that sit within the sovereign nation of Syria. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal deliberations. Trumps order also slams the door on any suggestion that the bulk of the more than 1200 U.S. troops that have been in Syria will be coming home any time soon.
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