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McConnell Introduces Resolution Opposing Syria Withdrawal

But stops short of suggesting sanctions on Turkey
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 22, 2019 4:00 PM CDT
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks with the media after the Senate Policy Luncheon in Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

(Newser) – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced legislation Tuesday denouncing Turkey's invasion of northern Syria and gently prodding President Trump to halt his withdrawal of US troops from the embattled country, the AP reports. But McConnell said lawmakers should refrain from imposing sanctions on Turkey for now, saying, "We don't want to further drive a NATO ally into the arms of the Russians." That puts him into conflict with the Democratic-led House, where a vote on a sanctions measure is planned for next week. Senate Democrats also said they wanted to plunge ahead with sanctions legislation. A bipartisan package by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Chris Van Hollen would bar arms sales to Turkey and place sanctions on the assets of top officials in Ankara.

Turkey moved its forces in northern Syria this month after Trump abruptly decided to pull American forces out of northeastern Syria, effectively abandoning Syrian Kurdish fighters, who have been a leading US partner in battling forces of the Islamic State. His decision has been widely condemned by both parties in Congress, who have been searching for ways to press him to reverse the US withdrawal. McConnell's resolution says the withdrawal of American troops should be halted "where practical," and says the US should continue using air power to attack IS fighters in Syria. It also says Trump should rescind his invitation to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a White House visit until a solid ceasefire between Turkish and Kurdish forces has been reached.

(Read more Syria stories.)

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