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Obama-era hawkish envoy wants end to US occupation of Syria within 180 days

In this file picture, US soldiers walk while on patrol by the Suwaydiyah oil fields in Syria's northeastern province of Hasakah. (Photo by AFP)

Robert Ford, an Obama-era ambassador to Syria who pushed an aggressive approach to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, is now backing a resolution to force the withdrawal of occupying US troops from the Arab country.

The US House is expected to vote on a War Powers Resolution introduced by Florida Republican Matt Gaetz last week. The bill would force a withdrawal of all US troops from Syria following a recent incident in which four American soldiers were injured during a raid.

“Congress has never authorized the use of military force in Syria,” Gaetz said in the press release that accompanied the announcement of a similar bill late last month. “The United States is currently not in a war with or against Syria, so why are we conducting dangerous military operations there?”

The war powers bill will require President Joe Biden to bring US troops home within 180 days unless Congress votes to authorize a longer deployment.

Ford has supported Gaetz’s bill, saying the US mission has no clear objective. “After more than eight years of military operations in Syria there is no definition of what the ‘enduring’ defeat of ISIS (Daesh) would look like,” Ford writes in the letter.

“We owe our soldiers serving there in harm’s way a serious debate about whether their mission is, in fact, achievable.”

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), a group consisting of over 100 members, has now joined Gaetz in calling for Congressional approval over long-term troop deployments in Syria. The CPC’s leadership urged members to support the bill, according to The Intercept.

Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar expressed support for the bill as well, saying, “I wish Gaetz had worked more closely with the coalition of groups that have been working on this and the CPC. Nonetheless, I am a yes on the resolution.”

The CPC told its members the bill was “largely consistent with previous bipartisan efforts led by CPC Members to terminate such unauthorized military presence within one year, for which 130 House Democrats voted yes last year.”

Democratic New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman previously introduced similar legislation in 2022 and got 155 votes, including 25 from breakaway Republicans.

The US military has stationed forces and equipment in northeastern Syria for years, with the Pentagon claiming that the deployment is aimed at preventing the oilfields in the area from falling into the hands of Daesh terrorists.

Damascus, however, maintains the deployment is meant to plunder the country's rich mineral resources and to destabilize the country.

Iran, Russia and several other countries say the presence of American forces in Syria has a “destabilizing” impact on the Arab country, calling for the immediate withdrawal of all “occupying forces” from the country.

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