Oct. 22 (UPI) — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday introduced a resolution opposing the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, one week after the House passed a similar measure.
The resolution also voices opposition to the departure of troops in Afghanistan.
“If not arrested, withdrawing from Syria will invite more of the chaos that breeds terrorism and creates a vacuum our adversaries will certainly fill,” McConnell said in remarks from the Senate floor.
The move comes two weeks after President Donald Trump announced plans to remove U.S. troops from northern Syria ahead of a Turkish military advance to expel Kurdish forces from the area. Turkey seeks to clear the region in order to repatriate Syrian refugees there.
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.
Turkey and the United States agreed to a temporary cease-fire last week after Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria, killing dozens of Kurdish fighters. The Trump administration faced criticism from lawmakers — both Democrats and Republicans — for the withdrawal.
McConnell said he hopes both major parties in the Senate will support the resolution. The House, on Wednesday, gave overwhelming support for a similar measure with a 354-60 vote.
“Some of the Democrats criticizing the administration today wanted to withdraw from Syria and Afghanistan just a few months ago,” McConnell tweeted. “They can’t have this both ways. We need clarity: Which Senators support American leadership in the fight against terrorism and which do not?”
Earlier Tuesday, Turkey and Russia reached a deal to create a terror-free zone in northern Turkey.
By noon Wednesday, “the People’s Protection Units and their weapons will be taken out of the terror-free zone and their positions will be dismantled,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said of the organization also known as the YPG. “The YPG will retreat [19 miles] within 150 hours, and then Turkish-Russian joint patrols will be launched in the area [6 miles] into Syrian territory.”