Washington, D.C. – As members of the House Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, and Intelligence Committees, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, Congressman Jason Crow (D-CO-6), Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-7), and Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-6) returned this morning from a bipartisan congressional delegation trip to Turkey, Afghanistan, and the Syrian-Jordanian border.
The Members said:
“During our trip, we met with foreign governmental leaders and our own U.S. security, intelligence and diplomatic leadership to discuss our ongoing counterterrorism efforts, the threats posed by terrorist groups, including ISIS, and the impact of the region’s instability on our own national security.
Over and over again we heard from U.S. and foreign leaders of the danger posed to the U.S. and our allies if Turkish forces moved into northern Syria, an area protected by our Kurdish allies, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The SDF has been our primary partner on the ground in the fight against ISIS, fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with U.S. forces and now guarding 11,000 battle-hardened ISIS fighters. At the same time, Turkey views the SDF as a risk to their security priorities. The bottom line is that these Kurdish soldiers are the first line of defense in maintaining the gains we have made against ISIS; if Turkey attacks these Kurdish soldiers, there is a grave risk that the ISIS fighters they guard will escape and return to the battlefield.
The Administration’s announcement regarding Syria is a misguided and catastrophic blow to our national security interests. Not only will this decision further destabilize the region, it will make it more difficult for the United States to recruit allies and partners to defeat terrorist groups like ISIS.
We call on the Administration to work with the same U.S. leaders, diplomats, and intelligence officials we met with this past week to understand the grave consequences of this rash decision and to develop a long-term strategy for countering the terrorist threat in Syria.”