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Rep. Andy Kim. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

House delegation cautions against Syria policy shift

Replacing Kurdish forces could reinvigorate ISIS, they say

By Nikita Biryukov, October 07 2019 2:05 pm

A five-member delegation from the House Armed Services Committee slammed President Donald Trump over his Sunday call for a shift in U.S. foreign policy in Syria that involved Turkish forces replacing U.S.-backed Kurdish forces near Syria’s border.

“The Administration’s announcement regarding Syria is a misguided and catastrophic blow to our national security interests,” the delegation said. “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 five-member delegation included Reps. Andy Kim (D-N.J.), Elise Stefanik (D-N.Y.), Jason Crow (D-Colo.), Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-Penn.).

The lawmakers warned that allowing Turkish forces to move into areas currently held by the Syrian Defense Force, the Kurdish forces, could harm U.S. interests abroad and reinvigorate largely-defeated ISIS forces.

“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 delegation said. “The bottom line is that these Kurdish soldiers are the first line of defense in maintaining the gains we have made against ISIS; if Turkey attacks these Kurdish soldiers, there is a grave risk that the ISIS fighters they guard will escape and return to the battlefield.”

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