House passes resolution condemning withdrawal of U.S. support for Kurds

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. A House resolution condemning President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. support from Syrian Kurds drew bipartisan support. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Oct. 16 (UPI) — The House on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution condemning President Donald Trump’s decision to end U.S. military support of Kurdish forces in Syria.

The measure received bipartisan support with a 354-60 vote. All those who voted against were Republicans.

The resolution voices opposition to Trump’s decision earlier this month to remove U.S. troops from northern Syria ahead of a planned Turkish military advance to expel Kurdish forces from the region. It also condemns the Turkish incursion, which seeks to clear the Kurds out of a part of northern Syria with the aim of resettling Syrian refugees who now live in Turkey.

Turkey considers Kurdish fighters — who opposed the Islamic State and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — to be terrorists. Since the Turkish incursion, the Kurdish fighters have aligned with Syrian government forces, which oppose Turkey.

Reps. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the top lawmakers on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, sponsored the resolution in the House.

“The president gave [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan the green light to charge into northern Syria — unleashing what has become a brutal campaign of violence against the Syrian Kurds,” Engel said on the House floor before the vote.

The measure also has bipartisan support in the Senate. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday echoed a chorus of bipartisan concerns about the president’s decision to withdraw troops.

“Leaving the field now would mean leaving the door wide open for a resurgence of this dangerous force and a new iteration of the Islamic States, creating a power vacuum begging for the meddling influence of Russia — leaving northeastern Syria wide open for Iran to extend its reach unimpeded all the way from Tehran to the doorstep of our friends in Israel,” the Kentucky Republican said.

After the vote, Democratic congressional leaders said that they walked out of a White House meeting with Trump after Pelosi said he had a “meltdown” that included calling her a “third-rate politician.”

“I think that vote, the size of the vote — more than 2 to 1 of the Republicans voted to oppose what the president did — it probably got to the president because he was shaken up by it,” Pelosi said. “That’s why we couldn’t continue in the meeting because he was just not relating to the reality of it.”

House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer said the meeting “deteriorated into a diatribe” and that the Democrats were “deeply offended” by the way Trump treated Pelosi.

Speaking earlier Wednesday during a joint press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, Trump said he was not surprised by Erdogan’s actions, noting that he had been “building up troops on the border with Syria for a long time.”

Trump said he questioned why U.S. troops were involved in the conflict, highlighting Syria’s relationship with the Kurdish forces, who he said “are no angels.”

“I say, ‘Why are we protecting Syria’s land? Assad is not a friend of ours. Why are we protecting their land?'” Trump said.


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