The House voted against a motion to withdraw soldiers from Syria on Wednesday, but conservative Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) still managed to win the backing of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and other members of the other side of the political spectrum.
Far-right Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), along with members of the far-left Democratic “squad,” including AOC, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, supported the motion (D-Mich.).
But on Wednesday, the measure was defeated 103-321.
The measure that would have instructed President Biden to evacuate the roughly 900 US service men who are still in Syria conducting counterterrorism operations received 56 Democratic votes to 47 Republican votes.
“The United States of America has no role in Syria. We are not a dominant force in the region. We have attempted to construct a democracy with Arab militias, blood, and sand. Our efforts repeatedly fail to lessen disorder. That frequently leads to turmoil, and it is precisely chaos that breeds terrorism, according to Gaetz, who issued a statement following the defeat of his resolution.
“Although today’s vote may have failed, my campaign to end eternal wars and bring our troops home has only just begun,” the Florida Republican continued.
The first US ground forces arrived in Syria in late 2015 and were charged with both eradicating the Islamic State terrorist organisation and enlisting, organising, and providing advice to Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters that made up the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces.
Nonetheless, the Pentagon claims that ISIS sleeper cells are still carrying out lethal assaults in Syria and Iraq despite losing its last foothold in Syria in 2019.
On the House floor on Wednesday, Gaetz said that ISIS in Syria isn’t a major threat to the US and that there isn’t a clear concept of what defeating ISIS in Syria entails, therefore the US shouldn’t be putting American lives at risk in what he termed a “hellscape” nation.
In Syria, there are 1,500 distinct groupings. Therefore ISIS will be today’s friend tomorrow. What is meant by the “enduring defeat of ISIS” is not exactly defined. Do we need to retain 900 Americans in Syria until every last supporter of ISIS has passed away, for example? In all likelihood, no. Gaetz contended that it would entail our permanent presence there.
The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), defended the US military engagement in Syria by pointing out that 250 ISIS members were captured and 466 militants were killed in operations with allies last year.
We might soon witness a revival of ISIS or some legal successor, McCaul warned, if we pull out our soldiers from Syria right away. “The withdrawal of these legally authorised U.S. troops must be predicated on the complete destruction of ISIS.”
Officially, the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force passed in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks justifies American military activities in Syria.