Pentagon officials say Russia wants to “seize” Syria’s oil and gas resources. 

The announcement comes as the United States say they are keeping over 2,000 troops in Syria and vow zero reconstruction aid as long as Iranian troops and advisers are present in the country

Russia meanwhile has been trying to garner support from Germany and France for a reconstruction program in Syria, where large parts of the country have been destroyed through seven years of proxy wars.

Zero Hedge reports: This week a top US military official even went so far as to accuse Russia of seeking to take advantage in any way they could” and that a “great power competition” for Syria will continue to shape its post-war future. 

Air Force Brig. Gen. Leah Lauderback, who served as director of intelligence for Operation Inherent Resolve until June, told an Army conference that “Great power competition was an objective by Russia,” and that specifically they are looking to “seize” oilfields in Syria. But a Russian official has slammed the US and Europe as living in a “fantasy land” if they still have removal of Assad on the table as “radicals will take over that will slit people’s throats’’ should regime change happen.

Gen. Lauderback said of Russia in the context of discussing US anti-ISIS operations at an Army conference in D.C. this week: “Economically, they wanted to seize oilfields, they wanted bids and contracts to develop Syria for infrastructure in order to stabilize Syria over the long term,” she said according to Al-Monitor news.

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin has reportedly been personally lobbying German Chancellor Angela Merkel over Syria reconstruction, especially as the two met outside Berlin last August, as the vital link solving or at least greatly reducing the migrant crisis which has become a political bombshell across Europe of late.

Russia says, simply enough, that if Syria is rebuilt then Syrians can go home — a process that’s already begun in a number of government-held major cities like Aleppo after their liberation from jihadist forces. But many European leaders, including in Germany, remain on the fence over European demands for a transition away from Bashar al-Assad’s rule.

Russia meanwhile appears to be arguing that neither the US nor Europe can do anything to make this happen as the long push for regime change has utterly failed and Assad is “here to stay” — as even the Washington Post reluctantly acknowledged recently.