McConnell: 'Gravely concerned' about Syria strategy

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell protege emerges as Kentucky's next rising star Hillicon Valley: Schumer questions Army over use of TikTok | Federal court rules against random searches of travelers' phones | Groups push for election security funds in stopgap bill | Facebook's new payment feature | Disney+ launch hit by glitches McConnell, GOP leaders say they won't be watching House impeachment hearing MORE (R-Ky.) on Monday said that he is "gravely concerned" about the U.S. strategy in Syria and warned that the withdrawal of U.S. troops would create a "power vacuum" in the region.  

“I am gravely concerned by recent events in Syria and by our nation’s apparent response thus far," McConnell said in a statement.


“Withdrawing American leadership from this pivotal region would not serve our nation’s short-, medium-, or long-term interests. It would only make a troubling situation much worse, not only for regional partners such as Israel and Jordan but for the United States as well," he continued. 

McConnell didn't directly mention President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report MORE in his statement. But his comments came minutes before Trump, in a string of tweets, boasted about largely removing troops from Syria. 

"Let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for thaeir own land," Trump added.

The two statements underscore the break between Trump and traditional GOP allies on Capitol Hill over the president's decision to pull back U.S. troops from northern Syria. In the wake of the White House's announcement last week, Turkey invaded northern Syria and reports emerged over the weekend of some ISIS fighters escaping detention. 

"Turkey is our NATO ally and has legitimate security concerns stemming from the conflict in Syria. But Turkey’s offensive against our Syrian Kurdish partners is jeopardizing years of hard-won progress in the fight against ISIS," McConnell added on Monday.

Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Pentagon says Syrian oil revenue going to Kurdish forces | GOP chair accuses Dems of using Space Force as leverage in wall fight | Dems drop plans to seek Bolton testimony Pentagon: Revenue from Syria oil fields going to Kurdish-led forces The Hill's Morning Report - Dems poised to air alleged Trump abuses on TV MORE announced Sunday that Trump had ordered the withdrawal of nearly all 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria. Previously, administration officials said about 50 troops would relocate from two outposts in northeast Syria.

Lawmakers are weighing how to respond to Trump's decision. A bipartisan group from the House and Senate have backed additional sanctions against Turkey, as well as a resolution opposing Trump's strategy. 

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGiuliani pens op-ed slamming 'unprecedented' impeachment inquiry Brindisi, Lamb recommended for Armed Services, Transportation Committees Overnight Health Care: Top health official defends contract payments to Trump allies | Vaping advocates confident Trump will turn from flavor ban | Sanders gets endorsement from nurses union MORE (D-Calif.) and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham says Trump should be allowed to undo DACA order The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems, GOP dig in for public impeachment hearings The Hill's Morning Report - Witness transcripts plow ground for public impeachment testimony MORE (R-S.C.) spoke on the phone earlier Monday about the need for the two pieces of legislation, but did not reach a deal on specific language. 

McConnell did not tip his hand during his statement about what he would support but noted that the Senate previously voted earlier this year warning Trump against pulling troops out of Syria. 

“I look forward to discussing what the United States can do to avoid a strategic calamity with my Senate colleagues and with senior administration officials when the Senate returns to Washington this week," McConnell said on Monday.