Bill to withdraw troops from Syria rejected by US lawmakers
A legislation for the removal of US troops from Syria was soundly defeated in US House of Representatives on Wednesday as 321 voted against it and only 103 in favor.
Opponents of the measure warned that it could allow a dismantled Islamic State (ISIS) group to reorganize and endanger the United States and its allies.
The resolution was introduced by Republican Matt Gaetz after four US service members were wounded during a helicopter raid last month in northeastern Syria that killed a senior ISIS leader. In arguing for his legislation, Gaetz said he didn't believe that "what stands between a caliphate and not a caliphate are the 900 Americans who have been sent to this hellscape with no definition of victory."
Michael McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said the US was involved last year in operations with partners that killed 466 ISIS operative and detained 250 others. He said that if the US withdraws troops now, it could lead to the resurgence of ISIS.
“Withdrawal of this legal, authorized US troop deployment must be based on the total defeat of ISIS," McCaul added.
The ranking Democratic member of the committee, Gregory Meeks, said he opposes an indefinite US military presence in Syria, but said of Gaetz's bill: "This measure forces a premature end to our mission at a critical time for our efforts."
ISIS lost all territorial control in Syria in 2019, following a US-backed campaign by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). While ISIS's sleeper cells persist and have even ramped up attacks in the past years, Syrian Kurdish and US forces frequently conduct raids targeting the cells in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES).
"The hard truth is this, either we fight them in Syria or we'll fight them here," said Republican Ryan Zinke. "Either we fight and defeat them in Syria, or we’ll fight them in the streets of our nation."
In the end, 47 Republicans voted for the bill with 171 opposing, while 56 Democratic lawmakers voted for the bill with 150 opposing.