McConnell 'gravely concerned' about U.S. response to Syrian conflict

Source: Politico | October 14, 2019 | Marianne Levine

McConnell said Monday that the withdrawal of troops would not help the U.S.’s long-term interest in the region.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that he was “gravely concerned” about the U.S. response to the escalating conflict in Syria.

In a statement, McConnell pledged to work toward avoiding “a strategic calamity” when the Senate returns this week and warned that Turkey’s latest attacks on Kurdish allies in Syria was hurting progress in the fight against the Islamic State.

McConnell’s remarks come after President Donald Trump decided to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria — a move that has prompted bipartisan backlash.

“Abandoning this fight now and withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria would re-create the very conditions that we have worked hard to destroy and invite the resurgence of ISIS,” McConnell said. “And such a withdrawal would also create a broader power vacuum in Syria that will be exploited by Iran and Russia, a catastrophic outcome for the United States’ strategic interests.”

Following Trump’s announcement to withdraw U.S. troops from the region, Turkey went into northeastern Syria, a Kurdish-occupied region.

McConnell, who did not mention Trump by name, said Monday that the withdrawal of troops would not help the U.S.’s long-term interest in the region. He reiterated that earlier this year a bipartisan supermajority of senators supported legislation warning against the early withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

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