A bipartisan group of House lawmakers that recently visited the Syrian border said Monday that President Trump‘s “rash” decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria will “further destabilize the region.”
Reps. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.), Andy Kim (D-N.J.), Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who all visited the Syria-Jordan border as part of a congressional delegation in recent days, urged the Trump administration to reconsider the move announced late Sunday.
“Not only will this decision further destabilize the region, it will make it more difficult for the United States to recruit allies and partners to defeat terrorist groups like ISIS,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “We call on the Administration to work with the same U.S. leaders, diplomats, and intelligence officials we met with this past week to understand the grave consequences of this rash decision and to develop a long-term strategy for countering the terrorist threat in Syria.”
The lawmakers said that during their trip, which included stops in Afghanistan and Turkey, they discussed counterterrorism efforts and the threats posed by terrorist groups like ISIS.
“Over and over again, we heard from U.S. and foreign leaders of the danger posed to the United States and our allies if Turkish forces moved into northern Syria, an area protected by our Kurdish allies, the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF),” they said. “The SDF has been our primary ally on the ground in the fight against ISIS, fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with U.S. forces and now guarding 11,000 battle-hardened ISIS fighters. At the same time, Turkey views these Kurdish soldiers as a risk to their security priorities.”
The lawmakers argued that Kurdish soldiers are the “first line of defense in maintaining the gains we have made against ISIS,” adding that if Turkey moves forward with its plans to implement military action, “there is a grave risk that the ISIS fighters they guard will escape and return to the battlefield.”
Trump defend his decision on Twitter and threatened to “obliterate the Economy of Turkey” if they take military action against U.S. allies.
“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!),” he tweeted.