Rep. Jim Costa of Fresno said Monday morning that President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria “is disgraceful and deeply harmful to our national security.”
Said Costa in a news release: “Not only does this open the door to ISIS regrouping and resuming its horrendous acts of violence, but it also sends the message that the United States will not stand by those who fight at our side. By leaving our Kurdish allies at the mercy of President Erdogan of Turkey, a leader with a clear track record of human rights abuses, we are betraying the ideals of our nation and the core principles that have long underpinned our national security strategy.
“There is simply no justification for this abrupt and startling abandonment of our responsibilities and principles. The American people will be less safe because of it.”
Republicans Question Trump’s Decision
Leading Republicans also criticized Trump for making a decision that likely would endanger America’s Kurdish allies in the region.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield said Monday in an appearance on “Fox & Friends” that he had been briefed by the president about the decision. But he also voiced his concerns.
“I want to make sure we keep our word for those who fight with us and help us,” he said of the Kurds. “If you make a commitment and somebody is fighting with you, America should keep their word.”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called Trump’s decision “a disaster” in light of Erdogan’s threats to launch a military operation across the Syrian border against the Kurds.
Graham said that he would call for Turkey’s suspension from NATO and introduce sanctions against Ankara if the Turks attack Kurdish forces.
“This decision to abandon our Kurdish allies and turn Syria over to Russia, Iran, & Turkey will put every radical Islamist on steroids. Shot in the arm to the bad guys. Devastating for the good guys,” Graham wrote in a tweet.
Trump: ‘Ridiculous Endless Wars’
There are about 1,000 U.S. troops in northern Syria, and a senior U.S. official said they will pull back from the area — and could depart the country entirely should widespread fighting break out between Turkish and Kurdish forces. For the moment, the U.S. troops are not leaving Syria, officials said.
Since January, U.S. officials have tried to broker the creation of a “safe zone” in northern Syria to provide a security buffer between the Turkish military and Kurdish forces, but Turkey has repeatedly objected to its slow implementation.
Trump defended his decision, acknowledging in tweets that “the Kurds fought with us” but adding that they “were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so.”
“I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” he wrote.
If the Turks go too far, he tweeted later, “I in my great and unmatched wisdom” will destroy their economy.
(Associated Press contributed to this report.)