U.S. senators request briefing on troops withdrawal from northern Syria

Source: Xinhua| 2019-10-09 15:22:06|Editor: xuxin
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- U.S. senators from both parties on Tuesday demanded a senators-only briefing from the Trump administration over its decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria.

A senior official of the Trump administration said on Monday that about 50 U.S. military personnel stationed in the border area in northern Syria would be redeployed in the face of Turkish incursion to the region.

In a letter to Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Christopher Coons criticized the decision, saying it would have "severe consequence for our strategic national interests."

The two senators are also concerned that the decision, which "dramatically increases the threat to our Kurdish allies," was made amid reported opposition by military and diplomatic advisers.

The Washington Post reported in a Tuesday piece that some senior officials at the Pentagon said they were blindsided by President Donald Trump's controversial decision on Syria.

In response, Pentagon said on the same day that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley "were consulted over the last several days by the President regarding the situation and efforts to protect U.S. forces in northern Syria."

U.S. lawmakers from both parties criticized Trump's decision to regroup U.S. forces and abandon the Syrian Kurdish fighters, fearing it would lead to a resurgence of the Islamic State (IS) and a humanitarian crisis following the Turkish incursion.

Trump defended his decision in a series of tweets on Tuesday.

"So many people conveniently forget that Turkey is a big trading partner of the United States, in fact they make the structural steel frame for our F-35 Fighter Jet," Trump said, ignoring the fact that Turkey has been removed from the F-35 program since July after receiving Russian S-400 air defense system.

In another move to alleviate criticism, Trump tweeted that Washington would not abandon the Syrian Kurdish fighters, a U.S. ally in fighting the IS but terrorists in Ankara's eyes.

He warned Ankara "any unforced or unnecessary fighting by Turkey will be devastating to their economy and to their very fragile currency."

Turkey's Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that its military had completed all preparations for a military operation in the east of Euphrates River in Syria to establish a safe zone.

Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said on the same day that the Syrian government will defend all Syrian areas and will not accept any form of occupation by foreign forces.