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ICYMI: Rep. Waltz: Withdrawing U.S. Troops in Syria Opens Pandora’s Box for ISIS Return

Washington, DC, October 11, 2019

 On Friday, U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) spoke with MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle about the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, calling the decision a “strategic mistake” and expressing concerns about the resurgence of ISIS as a result of U.S. troop withdrawal.

“I think we’re just making a strategic mistake here,” Waltz said. “I am very concerned that we are creating the conditions for ISIS to return. The Kurds were guarding tens of thousands of ISIS fighters and now they are no longer guarding those fighters. The jailhouse doors are open – because they are defending themselves against the Turks. Further, Al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, is still alive and is calling for his guerrilla fighters to attack these camps.”


Waltz also clarified that U.S. troops in Syria helping Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) were actually working as a war deterrent for further conflicts.


“I understand the President’s frustration – and many people’s frustration – for how long these efforts have taken: too hard, too expensive. I understand that. But I think there’s a misconception amongst many that we had tens of thousands of soldiers there,” Waltz said. “We had a few hundred Green Berets that were actually preventing endless war. They were a deterrent against war by establishing that buffer zone – that by all accounts was working – between the Kurds and the Turks and keeping everyone focused on keeping a lid on that Pandora’s Box that is ISIS. They can and will return. They will attack America again. We have to stay on the offense.”

Waltz also discussed a forthcoming bill he is co-sponsoring with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and nearly 30 other Republicans to impose sanctions on Turkey in response to Ankara’s military offensive against U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in Northern Syria. 

“We need to stand with our Kurdish allies. We need to re-establish that safe zone and we need to keep everybody focused on the true threat to Europe and the United States – and that’s a reemergent ISIS,” Waltz said.

A video of the full interview is available here.

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