08:41 GMT +321 November 2019
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    US House Votes to Condemn Trump's Troop Withdrawal, Turkish Incursion in Syria

    CC BY-SA 2.0 / Ken Lund / United States Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.
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    In a rare display of bipartisan unity, the US House of Representatives has voted by a large majority to condemn US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw troops from eastern Syria, as well as the Turkish invasion of that territory that quickly followed.

    The House voted 354-60 to approve House Joint Resolution 77, expressing the legislative house's opposition to Trump's withdrawal of US troops from eastern Syria and the subsequent attack on Kurdish forces there by the Turkish military.

    By passing the measure, the House resolves "that Congress (1) opposes the decision to end certain United States efforts to prevent Turkish military operations against Syrian Kurdish forces in Northeast Syria; (2) calls on Turkish President Erdogan to immediately cease unilateral military action in Northeast Syria and to respect existing agreements relating to Syria; (3) calls on the United States to continues supporting Syrian Kurdish communities through humanitarian support, including to those displaced or otherwise affected by ongoing violence in Syria; (4) calls on the United States to work to ensure that the Turkish military acts with restraint and respects existing agreements relating to Syria; and (5) calls on the White House to present a clear and specific plan for the enduring defeat of ISIS."

    While Trump first announced in December 2018 that the more than 1,000 US troops in eastern Syria would soon be departing, once Daesh was defeated, only last week did the president begin the removal - first, a small number from the Syrian-Turkish border, to be followed by the remainder of forces shortly thereafter. However, as soon as Trump announced the removal in 2018, it immediately became apparent that the withdrawal would precipitate a Turkish attack on US-allied Kurdish forces in Syria, who Ankara considers to be terrorist organizations.

    On October 9, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched Operation Peace Spring, an incursion that aims to ethnically cleanse an area of Syria adjacent to the Turkish border at least 20 miles deep, to be resettled with Arab Syrian war refugees currently living inside Turkey.

    However, the removal of US troops also caused Kurdish and Syrian Arab Army forces to bury the hatchet, and SAA units, along with other pro-Damascus forces, moved quickly to secure Kurdish-held areas and protect them from Turkish attack.

    In remarks Wednesday, Trump told members of the press, "If Turkey goes into Syria, it is between Turkey and Syria. It's not our problem."

    "If Syria wants to fight to take back their land, that's up to them and Turkey," he added. "There's a lot of sand that they can play with," he noted. "Syria may have some help with Russia, and that's fine." He also said the Kurds are "not angels."

    An August prank phone call to South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, revealed the administration had been coordinating the withdrawal with Turkey for months.

    “Your YPG Kurdish problem is a big problem,” the senator believed he was telling Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar. In reality, Graham was speaking with Legendary Russian political pranksters Alexey Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov, who are known for having tricked politicos around the world into making similar damning statements. Politico obtained a copy of the call last week.

    “I told President Trump that Obama made a huge mistake in relying on the YPG Kurds,” Graham continued. “Everything I worried about has come true, and now we have to make sure Turkey is protected from this threat in Syria. I’m sympathetic to the YPG problem, and so is the president, quite frankly.”

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