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Schumer: Trump must reverse course, back Kurds under attack in Syria

Sen. Chuck Schumer talks Sunday about a resolution

Sen. Chuck Schumer talks Sunday about a resolution that would demand President Donald Trump reverse his recent decision to pull U.S. military support for Kurds on the Syrian border. Credit: Todd Maisel

Sen. Chuck Schumer on Sunday called for the United States to support its Kurdish allies under attack in Syria following President Donald Trump’s decision last week to withdraw American troops.

Schumer, a New York Democrat, said in a Manhattan news conference he will introduce a joint resolution with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urging Trump to “undo his decision, to do everything he can to protect the Kurds, to do everything that we must do to prevent ISIS terrorists from escaping.”

Turkey launched an invasion of Kurdish-held regions in northern Syria last week after Trump began withdrawing U.S. troops from the area, a move that has drawn bipartisan criticism. The Kurds, with U.S. assistance, defeated ISIS fighters who had controlled large swaths of territory in Syria during the ongoing civil war. Sunday news reports from Syria said hundreds of prisoners with links to ISIS had escaped from Kurdish-run detention camps as Turkish forces pressed their attacks.

Schumer said Trump has been “derelict in his duty as president” by withdrawing troops from Syria.

“He is making Americans much less safe,” Schumer said. “He is undoing years of work to curb ISIS. He is making America more susceptible to terrorism by his actions.”

On Sunday, Trump tweeted that he was “dealing” with Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina) to impose “powerful” sanctions on Turkey.

“Treasury is ready to go, additional legislation may be sought. There is great consensus on this. Turkey has asked that it not be done. Stay tuned!” Trump tweeted.

“We should use sanctions, but they're not enough,” Schumer said, adding that he supports sanctions but they would take time to implement.

Schumer’s resolution would call for continued counterterrorism operations with the Kurds to fight ISIS. It would also insist that the premature withdrawal of U.S. troops could hurt the security and stability of Syria and give Russia as well as Iran greater regional influence at the expense of U.S. interests. The resolution would also urge Trump to restore engagement with the Kurds.

Schumer stopped short of saying U.S. troops that have already been withdrawn should be returned because the situation on the ground has changed.

“If those troops coming back, could come back safely, a few hundred, and would undo the damage that's been done, I would support that,” he said.

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) last week issued a statement urging Trump to “exercise American leadership to keep together our multinational coalition to defeat ISIS and prevent significant conflict between our NATO ally Turkey and our local Syrian counterterrorism partners.”

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