Sen. McConnell says conflict between Turkey and US partners in Syria would risk damaging ties between the countries

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WASHINGTON D.C. (WEHT/AP) – US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Monday that ‘major new conflict between Turkey and our partners in Syria would seriously risk damaging Turkey’s ties to the United States.’

Sen. McConnell’s statements followed President Donald Trump’s sudden decision to pull back US troops from northern Syria.

The decision was also criticized by Kurdish fighters who would be abandoned to face a likely Turkish assault after fighting alongside Americans for years against the Islamic State.

Turkey wants to carve out a zone of control across northern Syria along its border, a strip that would run through part of the heartland of the Kurdish minority where they have carved out a degree of self-rule amid Syria’s civil war.

Read Sen. McConnell’s full statement here:

“In January, a supermajority of the U.S. Senate voted for an amendment that expressed bipartisan concern about the continuing threat posed by ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria, appreciation of the long-term American security interests in Syria and the region, and support for a continued military presence in northeastern Syria.

The conditions that produced that bipartisan vote still exist today. While the physical caliphate has been removed, ISIS and al Qaeda remain dangerous forces in Syria and the ongoing Syrian civil war poses significant security and humanitarian risks.

A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup.

I urge the President to exercise American leadership to keep together our multinational coalition to defeat ISIS and prevent significant conflict between our NATO ally Turkey and our local Syrian counterterrorism partners. Major new conflict between Turkey and our partners in Syria would seriously risk damaging Turkey’s ties to the United States and causing greater isolation for Turkey on the world stage.

As we learned the hard way during the Obama Administration, American interests are best served by American leadership, not by retreat or withdrawal.”

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(This story was originally published on October 7, 2019)

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