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Pelosi: Syria briefing still needed after al-Baghdadi briefing

Pelosi: Syria briefing still needed after al-Baghdadi briefing
© Greg Nash

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrat says he won't introduce resolution to censure Greene after her apology Democrats weigh next steps on Jan. 6 probe 21 Republicans vote against awarding medals to police who defended Capitol on Jan. 6 MORE (D-Calif.) on Wednesday said the Trump administration still owes the House a briefing on the situation in Syria with Turkey after defense and intelligence officials briefed lawmakers following the raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

 “We had asked for a briefing on Syria, they wanted to give us a briefing on al-Baghdadi,” she told reporters after the briefing. “We welcomed that, and we congratulate our forces that did that so successfully. We still want the briefing on Syria and Turkey.”

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Asked if the briefers at the classified session were unprepared to answer questions on Syria and Turkey, Pelosi said she “can’t go into what happened in there.”

“But again, let’s say on the plus side, the briefing on al-Baghdadi is something that we congratulate our forces for doing so successfully,” she said.

Lawmakers have been demanding a briefing on the situation in Syria since President TrumpDonald TrumpKushner lands book deal, slated for release in 2022 Biden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal Progressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC MORE announced at the beginning of the month he would withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, allowing Turkey to proceed with a long-threatened offensive against Kurdish forces.

Trump’s decision prompted a bipartisan backlash as lawmakers warned against abandoning the Kurds, who were the main ground force the United States relied on in the fight against ISIS. Lawmakers also fear Turkey’s invasion will lead to an ISIS resurgence.

In response to Trump’s decision, the House overwhelmingly passed both a resolution opposing the withdrawal and a bill that would sanction Turkey.

Calls for a briefing intensified after this weekend’s raid on al-Baghdadi’s compound in northwest Syria, with Pelosi and other Democrats fuming that Trump only briefed a few Republicans before publicly announcing the ISIS leader’s death.

Wednesday’s briefing was conducted by Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Top admiral shoots back at criticism of 'woke' military | Military guns go missing | New White House strategy to battle domestic extremism Top admiral shoots back at criticism of 'woke' military: 'We are not weak' Cotton, Pentagon chief tangle over diversity training in military MORE, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph MaguireJoseph MaguireJudge dismisses Nunes's defamation suit against Washington Post Retired Navy admiral behind bin Laden raid says he voted for Biden Congressional Democrats request FBI briefing on foreign election interference efforts MORE.

Senators were also scheduled to be briefed after the House on Wednesday.

Pelosi said she “didn’t really get into” her concerns at the Wednesday briefing about bipartisan congressional leaders not being briefed ahead of time on the al-Baghdadi raid.

Asked if the broader Syria and Turkey briefing has been scheduled yet, Pelosi said, “They said it will be.”

Esper and Milley earlier this month briefed the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, but Pelosi is asking for a full House briefing.

Despite Pelosi’s comments, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithThe tale of the last bipartisan unicorns Congress must stop the march toward war with China Pelosi floats Democrat-led investigation of Jan. 6 as commission alternative MORE (D-Wash.) said he walked away from Wednesday’s briefing with a better understanding of the administration’s plan for the way forward in Syria.

“There’s always more questions, but I thought we did get a pretty decent overview of what’s going on in Syria, what the plan is going forward,” he said. “I think they’re developing a new plan. In light of circumstances, they are having to develop a new plan as things have changed. And what we’re hoping is that there will be a dialogue going forward with Congress as to how that plan is developed, and that’s what they were pressed on most.”