In an effort to continue the implementation of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) and bolster the strength of U.S.-backed Syrian forces, officials want to continue to train and increase the number of allied fighters. As a part of this effort, according to OIR’s Inspector General (IG) report, there is a push to build an “Oilfield Guard Unit,” comprised of over 2,200 men.

The northeastern region of Syria is home to expansive oilfields. These require protection against ISIS and foreign fighters. Denying ISIS access to the oilfields is crucial since, on average, the fields can generate between $1 million to $3 million dollars a day.

Crucially, the decision to guard the oilfields comes at the same time as an agreement to export oil out of the region was openly established between Delta Crescent Energy LLC, a Delaware based company, and Kurdish backed authorities in Syria. Needless to say, Syria’s Foreign Ministry does not approve of this agreement and claimed that the deal was illegal and was nothing more than a way to steal Syrian oil.

According to the IG’s report, Allied Syrians have increased their “security presence near major oil and gas fields in northeastern Syria.” In these locations, they have “remained co-located with Coalition forces whose protection SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) leaders still depend on.” For example, a small group of Special Operators is working out of al-Tanf, a small operating base located in Syria, near the border of Iraq and Jordan. There, it has been training a local unit called Mughawir al-Thawra.