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The former US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) on 7 March urged US lawmakers to vote “yes” on a War Powers Resolution introduced by Representative Matt Gaetz last week.
“After more than eight years of military operations in Syria, there is no definition of what the ‘enduring’ defeat of ISIS would look like,” Ford, a former proponent of the military occupation of Syria, writes in the letter obtained by The Intercept.
“We owe our soldiers serving there in harm’s way a serious debate about whether their mission is, in fact, achievable,” he adds.
Similarly, the CPC – the most ‘left-leaning’ faction of the Democratic Party – late on Tuesday circulated a letter urging its members to back the resolution.
“This measure to remove unauthorized deployment of US Armed Forces in Syria unless a specific statutory authorization is enacted within six months is largely consistent with previous bipartisan efforts led by CPC Members to terminate such unauthorized military presence within one year, for which 130 House Democrats voted yes last year,” read the message.
The US House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the legislation on Wednesday afternoon. If approved, it would require US President Joe Biden to remove all US occupation troops from Syria within six months.
“Congress has never authorized the use of military force in Syria. The United States is not currently in a war with or against Syria, so why are we conducting dangerous military operations there? President Biden must remove all US Armed Forces from Syria. America First means actually putting the people of our country first – not the interests of the military-industrial complex,” a statement released last week by Gaetz reads.
Over the past several years, US troops have illegally occupied Syria’s resource-rich northeast region with the help of its Kurdish proxy militia, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), holding the nation’s resources hostage to exert pressure on Damascus.
While initially deployed to allegedly combat ISIS – only after the group had nearly taken full control of Syria and the Russian army entered the fold – Washington now alleges their presence in the country is to act as a “bulwark” to Iran.
As the Washington Post reported in 2018, after the defeat of ISIS, “the [Trump] administration switched course, saying the troops will stay in Syria pending an overall settlement to the Syrian war and with a new mission: to act as a bulwark against Iran’s expanding influence. That decision puts US troops in overall control, perhaps indefinitely, of an area comprising nearly a third of Syria, a vast expanse of mostly desert terrain roughly the size of Louisiana.”
Wednesday’s vote will take place just a few days after the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, visited several US bases in Syria, telling reporters that continuing the occupation of the country was ‘worth the risk.’
“I happen to think [the mission in Syria] is important,” Milley said. “So I think that an enduring defeat of ISIS and continuing to support our friends and allies in the region … I think those are important tasks that can be done.”