(Washington, DC-AP) – Senator Lindsey Graham is warning Turkey about moving troops into northern Syria. The South Carolina Republican said Turkey would face “sanctions from hell” by Congress.
He noted that sanctions would be wide, deep and devastating. There are growing concerns about Turkey plotting movements into northern Syria since President Trump announced plans to remove U.S. troops from the war-torn region. Graham chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.
And Both of Alaska’s senators are joining with other Republicans in Congress to condemn Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Northern Syria. S
enator Lisa Murkowski called the move “abrupt and unsettling,” saying that it betrays U.S. alliances with Kurdish forces and give ISIS an opportunity to grow again. Senator Dan Sullivan said the President’s decision will lead to a power vacuum that could be filled by “Russian and Iranian proxies.”
(Washington, DC-AP) — President Trump is insisting that he is not reversing course in Syria. Talking with reporters at the White House today, Trump defended his decision to leave a couple of hundred U.S. troops in the war-torn country.
“At the same time, we can leave a small force along with others in the force whether it’s NATO troops or whoever it might be so that it won’t start up again. And I’m okay. It’s a very small tiny fraction of people that we have.”
He still plans to remove most of the more than two-thousand American forces from Syria. Trump again argued that ISIS is being destroyed in Syria. He said nobody else has been able to do that.
(AP) – The U.S. military pullout from Syria has started. A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq said today that the withdrawal of troops and equipment is now underway. However, Colonel Sean Ryan did not give any specific details about troop movements and timing.
This comes just days after White House national security adviser John Bolton seemed to contradict President Trump’s order last month for two-thousand U.S. troops to leave Syria. Bolton said this week that the withdrawal wouldn’t be immediate and wouldn’t happen until ISIS is completely defeated. Bolton said it also would require Turkey’s pledge not to attack America’s Kurdish allies in Syria.
(Washington, DC-AP) — Not all Republicans are on board with President Trump’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Florida’s Marco Rubio called it a colossal mistake and a grave error. South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham called it a “huge Obama-like mistake.”
President Trump tweeted yesterday that ISIS has been defeated in Syria, and that combating ISIS was the only reason for being there. Graham responded, “With all due respect, ISIS is not defeated.” Russia, Iran and the Syrian regime have long desired for the U.S. to pull out of Syria.
(Pyongyang) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is planning a trip to Pyongyang to meet with North Korean lead Kim Jong Un. North Korean state media Sunday reported the planned meeting, which comes after Assad received the credentials of the North Korean ambassador to Syria.
The U.N. has accused North Korea of working with Syria on chemical weapons, something both nations deny. Depending on when the meeting takes place, it could be the first time Kim publicly meets with a foreign head of state in Pyongyang since taking power in 2011. A planned summit between Kim and President Trump is set for June 12th in Singapore.
In related news, the White House is in the early stages of organizing a summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. “The Wall Street Journal” reported that the effort aims at resolving differences about nuclear weapons, Syria and Ukraine.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman has reportedly been working for months to make the meeting happen. The two leaders have met twice before during other international gatherings.
(SL) – The U.S. is “locked and loaded” if Syria chooses to use chemical weapons again. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley delivered the promise from President Trump at an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council. The council met today over the joint airstrikes launched against targets in Syria last night. Haley insisted that the strikes were a justified and proportionate reaction to a chemical weapons attack attributed to Syria’s government. She also accused Russia of aiding and abetting the Syria regime, enabling it to use chemical weapons with impunity.
Russia’s ambassador blasted the U.S. and its allies for what he called a complete disregard for international law. He raised doubts on whether the reported chemical weapons attack that prompted the airstrikes actually took place. He added that the U.S. is pandering to terrorists who have kept Syria in the grip of chaos for years.
(Washington, DC) – The U.S. State Department is condemning a suspected chemical attack on Syrian citizens. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the U.S. is “closely following disturbing reports” of the attack in a suburb of Damascus that killed dozens of people.
The State Department hadn’t been able to confirm chemicals were used, but nonetheless called the suspected attack “horrifying.” In a statement, Nauert said reports indicate a “potentially high number of casualties.” She said if the reports are confirmed, it would demand an immediate response from the international community.
(Syria) – The U.S. soldier killed in a roadside explosion in Syria is being identified. The Department of Defense says Master Sergeant Jonathan Dunbar was killed alongside a British serviceman Friday after an IED exploded near their patrol. Five others were injured in the blast. The 36-year-old from Austin, Texas began his military service in 2005, and had deployed once to Afghanistan and once to Iraq. His death is the second U.S. combat death to happen in Syria.
The attack happened a day after President Trump told a group of union workers in Ohio of his intentions to get out of Syria. The Trump administration froze 200-million-dollars of aid promised to the country.
(SL) – A U.S. Appeals Court says President Trump “exceeded the scope of his delegated authority” with his latest version of the hotly contested travel ban. In a unanimous decision yesterday, a three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said its ruling would be put on hold pending by the U.S. Supreme Court.
That means the ban targeting people from six majority Muslim countries will remain in effect after the Supreme Court lifted temporary lower court orders preventing the latest ban from taking effect earlier this month.
The ruling says Trump’s proclamation makes no finding that simply being from one of the countries cited in the ban makes someone a security risk. The panel also said the ban should not apply to people with strong U.S. ties.
Trump issued his first travel ban in January, targeting people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen seeking to enter the country. After the first ban was blocked by federal courts, the Trump Administration issued a revised one in March, which expired in September and was replaced by the current version.
(SL) – Syria is set to join the Paris Climate Accord, leaving the United States as the only nation to stand in opposition to the landmark deal. When the accord was signed in 2015, Syria and Nicaragua were the only nations to hold out.
Nicaragua signed on in October, and this week Syrian officials announced at a climate conference in Germany their intention to send ratification papers to the U.N.
The United States signed on in 2015, but in June, President Trump announced he would withdraw from the deal, effective in 2020, with intentions of negotiating a new deal that is more favorable to American businesses.
The Paris Climate Accord is designed to bring the world’s nations together to address threats from climate change.