WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced the Authorization for Use of Force to Defend the Kurds in Syria Resolution today as an amendment to the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act, S. 1. Sen. Kennedy’s amendment will allow the President to authorize the use of armed forces to defend the Kurds in Syria. The Syrian Kurds are potentially vulnerable to an attack by Syrian government forces, rebel forces and other external threats.
“There must always be a moral component to America’s foreign policy, and it’s our moral responsibility to be loyal to our allies,” said Sen. Kennedy. “The Syrian Kurds were indispensable in our fight against ISIS in Syria, and we shouldn’t leave them high and dry. This amendment will ensure the protection of our Kurdish allies and demonstrate our appreciation for their help in the war against ISIS.”
The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is a coalition made up of mostly Kurdish militias that has led the fight against ISIS in Syria. These Syrian Kurdish fighters are largely responsible for retaking more than 95% of ISIS’ claimed territory in Iraq and Syria and forcing ISIS to withdraw from its last major urban stronghold in the region.
In 2014, ISIS controlled more than 34,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria, but today American officials estimate that ISIS retains only 1% of its originally controlled territory.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, as of September 2018, 36 high value targets in Syria have been killed and more than 700 foreign terrorist fighters are in SDF custody. The Kurdish-led SDF helped reduce the number of ISIS fighters in Syria from approximately 100,000 in 2014 to less than 5,000 today.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the following about our Kurdish Syrian allies: “We’ve worked closely with the Syrian Kurds now for my entire time in service in this administration. They have been great partners. We are now driving to make sure that they have a seat at the table. The political process … the reason it hasn’t made progress is because we’ve demanded that every element in Syria gets an opportunity to be part of that future government, and in the absence of that and in the absence of their representation, we won’t participate in what will be a big check that someone’s going to have to write to fix the situation in Syria, and the Syrian Kurds will surely be part of that.”
President Donald Trump commented that the Kurds are “great people” and “good fighters.” President Trump went on to say, “They fought with us. They died with us. They died. We lost tens of thousands of Kurds, died, fighting ISIS. They died for us, and with us. And for themselves. They died, but they are great people. And we don’t forget.”