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Rep. Courtney Warns Withdrawal of Troops from Northeastern Syria Puts U.S. Allies in Danger, Harms Counter-ISIS Efforts

October 10, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, joined Rep. Jason Crowe (CO-06) and 56 other Members of Congress in writing to President Trump to warn that his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria in advance of a known Turkish military operation puts U.S. allies in danger, and harms ongoing counter-ISIS efforts.

In their letter to the President, the Members wrote:

“We believe your decision to withdraw U.S. personnel from the area will have far-reaching diplomatic and national security implications: it will dramatically alter our partnership with the [Syrian Democratic Forces], allow unilateral Turkish incursions into Syria, and jeopardize counter-ISIS efforts. Furthermore, it introduces uncertainty into U.S. foreign policy that will cause current and future allies to question the reliability of the U.S. as a partner.

“We cannot invite further instability in this region. For one, the SDF maintains custody of over 11,000 ISIS fighters in detention facilities across northeast Syria. Moreover, the decision leaves U.S. assets and personnel in Syria – principally, at al-Tanf – embroiled in uncertainty.


“One of our country’s greatest strengths is the diversity of our allies and partners that are willing to fight alongside us in times of conflict. Our allies commit their lives and livelihoods to our common cause and place immense trust in our unwavering dedication as a reliable partner. This decision jeopardizes decades of trust in American solidarity and will only serve to undermine current and future alliances.”

The letter goes on to request that the President answer a series of questions related to the decision-making that underpinned his decision, including whether the President plans to announce addition troop withdrawals in the near future; what standards the President is using to determine whether actions are “off limits” by Turkey; how will the more than 11,000 ISIS prisoners held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeastern Syria be secured if the  SDF are forced to reposition their resources for defensive purposes; and more.

The full letter is available online, and is included below.