Sen. McConnell Breaks with Trump Over Syria Withdrawal: It Only Benefits 'Russia, Iran, and the Assad Regime'

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Posted: Oct 07, 2019 2:55 PM
Sen. McConnell Breaks with Trump Over Syria Withdrawal: It Only Benefits 'Russia, Iran, and the Assad Regime'

Source: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued a statement on Monday, noting it is a poor decision for the United States military to withdraw from northern Syria to allow Turkey to take over the region.

McConnell said the continued support of the United States in the region has been a bipartisan effort because, "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," McConnell said. “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."

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

In a statement released late Sunday night, the White House said that because thousands of ISIS fighters and their families are being held in camps, "the United States will not hold them for what could be many years and great cost to the United States taxpayer." 

The White House said Turkey will be responsible for all ISIS fighters in the area that have been captured over the past two years. The Pentagon was reportedly "completely blindsided" by the order.

Other Senate Republicans, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham, have criticized the move, saying the United States has abandoned its Kurdish allies and is leaving their fate to their Turkish enemies.