Skip to main content

US Congress backs measure condemning Syria withdrawal in rebuke to Trump

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says meeting with Trump cut short over House vote to oppose president's decision
Measure also calls on administration to offer humanitarian support for displaced Kurds (Reuters)

The United States House of Representatives passed a measure that condemns President Donald Trump's decision to pull troops from northern Syria, which effectively sparked a Turkish offensive against Kurdish forces.

The House on Wednesday voted significantly in favor of the nonbinding resolution, 354-60, with many Republicans joining Democrats to rebuke Trump.

Earlier this month, the US president announced that he would be withdrawing troops from northern Syria, following a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Since then, US lawmakers and officials have accused the White House of betraying Washington's Kurdish allies.

Kurds say they are suspending fight against Islamic State as Syrian forces enter Kobane
Read More »

"That reckless and impulsive decision was a betrayal of our partners. It was a gift to Russia, a gift to Iran, a gift to [the Islamic State], and a gift to Assad. And it was a blow to our national security," Congressman Eliot Engels, who sponsored the bill, said Wednesday on the floor of the House.

In addition to condemning Trump, the measure calls on the Trump administration to offer humanitarian support for Kurds who have been displaced by the ongoing offensive.

It also calls for the president to restrain Turkey and present a clear plan for the enduring defeat of the Islamic State (IS) group.

"President Trump should come up with a real strategy to end the conflict in Syria rather than pursuing half-baked moves like this which have deadly implications," said Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell in a statement.

The resolution is expected to pass in the Senate as well, with top Republicans and allies of Trump offering criticisms of the president's decision.

"I fear this is a complete and utter national security disaster in the making," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on Twitter.

Graham will also be introducing a bill in the Senate alongside Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen that would call for heavy sanctions on Turkey.

Trump 'shaken up'

Once Congress voted to pass the resolution, Trump cut short a meeting he was having with leading Democrats and Republicans in Congress to discuss his Syria policy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

Pelosi said that Trump had been "shaken up" by the number of Republicans that had voted in favor of the measure.

The speaker added that Trump had a "meltdown" during the meeting, Reuters reported.

United States imposes 'very strong' sanctions on Turkey over Syria offensive
Read More »

The Trump administration has gone back and forth on its position regarding the Turkish offensive.

Initially, it seemed to tolerate it, then after a harsh backlash from Congress it issued sanctions against Turkey over the military operation.

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump said that the offensive was "not our problem" and said the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) was a greater threat to the world than the Islamic State group. 

Turkey says the Syrian Kurdish YPG, a major faction in the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), is an offshoot of the PKK.