US House backs resolution condemning Trump’s withdrawal from Syria

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The US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to condemn President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US forces from northeastern Syria, clearing the way for Turkey’s offensive against the Kurds.

The vote was 354 to 60 for the resolution, as dozens of Trump’s fellow Republicans joined the majority Democrats in favor.

The vote underscored deep unhappiness in Congress over Trump’s action, which many lawmakers view as abandoning Kurdish fighters who had been fighting alongside Americans to defeat ISIS.

They also angrily denounced the release from prison of ISIS fighters since Turkey’s offensive began a week ago.

“That was a betrayal of our partners. It was a gift to Russia, a gift to Iran, a gift to ISIS (Islamic State) and a gift to (Syrian President Bashar al-) Assad,” said Representative Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who sponsored the resolution.

Separately on Wednesday, congressional and committee leaders from both parties were meeting with Trump at the White House to discuss his Syria policy.

The resolution backed by the House opposes Trump’s decision to remove the troops and calls on his administration to present a “clear and specific plan for the enduring defeat of ISIS.”

It also calls on Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to immediately end the offensive, seeks continued US support for Syrian Kurdish communities through humanitarian support, and also calls on the United States to work to ensure that Turkey’s military acts with restraint.

A companion resolution, also backed by Democrats and Republicans, was introduced in the Republican-majority Senate on Tuesday, but has not yet been brought up for a vote.

The US-led coalition said on Wednesday that its forces had left the Syrian cities of Tabqah and Raqqa as well as a Lafarge cement factory as part of the withdrawal from northeast Syria.

“Coalition forces continue a deliberate withdrawal from northeast Syria. On Oct. 16, we vacated the Lafarge Cement Factory, Raqqa, and Tabqah,” coalition spokesman Colonel Myles B. Caggins said on Twitter.

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