U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) on Thursday sent a letter urging President Donald Trump to protect the United States’ Kurdish partners in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Blackburn posted a copy of the letter on Twitter, tweeting, “This morning, I joined @SenDuckworth in writing a letter to the president to express the importance of protecting our Kurdish friends as the administration plans its withdrawal of American troops from Syria.”
“The protection of our Kurdish friends and allies is in the national security interest of the United States,” said Blackburn. “The Kurds have been a reliable partner in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and we must not abandon them now.”
Nashville is home to the largest Kurdish population of any city in the United States, Blackburn said.
The letter comes as the administration considers a withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Syria. Blackburn and Duckworth are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The White House officially announced Dec. 19 that nearly 2,000 U.S. troops would leave Syria, Townhall reported.
“Five years ago, ISIS was a very powerful and dangerous force in the Middle East, and now the United States has defeated the territorial caliphate. These victories over ISIS in Syria do not signal the end of the Global Coalition or its campaign,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
Syrian Kurdish forces and Damascus have engaged in talks following Washington’s decision to remove troops from Syria, Voice of America said. That could lead to Turkey ending its freeze in relations with Syria.
Both of those results have been goals of Vladimir Putin, president of Russia. Putin has lobbied the PYD and its military wing, the YPG, to hold talks with Syria to wrest them away from U.S. influence.
In calling for Trump to create a strategy to protect America’s Kurdish partners, Blackburn’s and Duckworth’s letter says, “This strategy must use every diplomatic tool to enable the Republic of Turkey to fulfill its Article I obligation ‘…to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.’ Achieving this goal requires guarding against armed conflict between the Republic of Turkey and Kurdish SDF forces that fought alongside the United States in support of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.”
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.