U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Mitt Romney publicly condemned President Donald Trump on Monday for his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Northern Syria ahead of a planned Turkish invasion of the area.
Shortly after the withdraw of U.S. troops from the area, The Jerusalem Post reported that Turkish forces carried out attacks against Kurdish forces and the anti-Assad Syrian Democratic Forces militia in Syria and Iraq near the Turkish border.
“The President’s decision to abandon our Kurdish allies in Northern Syria in the face of an assault by Turkey is a betrayal that will have grave humanitarian and national security consequences,” they said in a statement. “After enlisting support from the Kurds to help destroy ISIS and assuring Kurdish protection from Turkey, the U.S. has now opened the door to their destruction. This severely undercuts America’s credibility as a reliable partner and creates a power vacuum in the region that benefits ISIS.”
Murphy and Romney called the decision to withdraw military support in the area a “victory for Assad, Russia, Iran, and ISIS,” and said that “barring a reversal of this decision,” Trump administration officials would be expected to come before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to “explain to the American people how betraying an ally and ceding influence to terrorists and adversaries is not disastrous for our national security interests.”
The senators joined a chorus of other members of Congress who called for the Trump administration to reconsider its decision to withdraw from Northern Syria, including frequent Trump allies Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Graham, along with Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., announced Monday that he would introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey if the country invaded Syria. Graham also said he would also “call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces who assisted the U.S. in the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate” — a move Sen. Richard Blumenthal voiced support for on Twitter Monday afternoon.
The White House announced late Sunday that it would withdraw U.S. troops from Northern Syria following a telephone call between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier in the day.
“Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,” the White House said in a statement. “The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”
While Trump reiterated those claims on his personal Twitter account Monday, Graham called the claim that U.S. forces had defeated ISIS “the biggest lie being told by the administration” in a phone interview with Fox and Friends Monday morning.
U.S. forces have assisted Syria in its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) since at least 2014.