The top-ranked Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee said he warned President Donald Trump that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria heightens the risk of a resurgence of the Islamic State terror army.
KURDISH LEADER ACCUSES TURKEY OF VIOLATING CEASE-FIRE
“I was in the White House in that highly publicized meeting when the speaker walked out,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking member Michael McCaul, R-Texas., referring to an explosive meeting last week, during which Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was shown standing up and pointing her finger at the president.
“I just raised the point to the president,” he continued on Fox Nation’s “Maria Bartiromo’s Insiders.” “I said, ‘You know, within a year, you crushed the caliphate. You and I criticized the Obama administration for pulling out 10,000 troops out of Iraq, which led then to the vacuum, which led to ISIS and the formation of the Caliphate. Do you not want to see history repeat itself?'”
On Saturday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that all U.S. troops leaving Syria as part of the withdrawal plan recently announced by President Trump will be stationed in western Iraq. In addition, the U.S. military will continue its efforts to prevent a resurgence by the Islamic State, he said. Bartiromo’s interview with Rep. McCaul was recorded on Sunday.
Bartiromo observed that the Syria withdrawal may also create an opportunity for Tehran.
“You all had Iran on its heels with sanctions, with this pressure campaign and now with the pullout in Syria, there is concern that the Iranians will get access to the oil fields and that will enable them revenue to support ISIS once again. Your reaction?” she asked.
“ISIS did the same thing,” conceded McCaul.
TRUMP REACTS TO PELOSI, DELEGATION TRAVELING TO MIDDLE EAST
He continued, by saying, “That’s why I raised with him, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense, we have to have a residual force both in Syria and Iraq that can protect the Homeland first and foremost and be a counterterrorism force. If we don’t have that, then we’re making a serious mistake that’s going to repeat itself all over again.”
The top Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee also said that he is prepared to back strong new sanctions against Turkey if Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan does not honor a cease-fire, announced last week, between the Turks and the Kurdish forces in Syria.
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On Sunday, a Kurdish military leader who serves as commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces told Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin in a telephone interview from his base inside Syria that Turkey’s military has “violated” the planned cease-fire and was continuing to commit “ethnic cleansing.”
“There’s a five-day ceasefire — temporary. We want to see if it can work,” said McCaul. “If it fails, we will have no other choice other than to issue and markup and put on the floor of the House… very strong sanctions, really targeted at Erdogan, the financial institutions dealing with Erdogan, the arms — all related to their activities in Syria.”
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Fox News’ Dom Calicchio, Jennifer Griffin and Frank MIles contributed to this report