October 22, 2019 / 7:24 PM / 20 days ago

Congressional rebuke of Trump foreign policy should 'go beyond' Syria - McConnell

FILE PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to a gathering of the Federalist Society at the State Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky, U.S. October 7, 2019. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that Congress should go beyond a resolution passed in the U.S. House of Representatives that condemns President Donald Trump over an abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria.

He said the Senate may also consider broader foreign policy concerns within its debate including any possible drawdown of forces in Afghanistan and the situation of Christians in eastern Syria.

Republican members of congress largely avoid public criticism of Trump, but a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including McConnell, have loudly rebuked the president’s decision two weeks ago to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria. Critics say this paved the way for a Turkish strike on Kurdish-led forces who were long allied with Washington.

McConnell told reporters he hoped the Trump administration would try to clean up the damage caused by the sudden withdrawal.

“I hope the administration is trying to mitigate the damage done by the decision to withdraw from eastern Syria all the U.S. troops,” McConnell said.

“My own view is that this is a good time to go beyond just eastern Syria ... I think there are a number of ways to address our foreign policy concerns and if we have that debate in the Senate, I’d like for it to apply more broadly than just to the Kurds,” McConnell added.

A five-day ceasefire with Turkey expired on Tuesday, in which Kurdish YPG fighters were required to leave a 30-km (19-mile) safe zone along the border with Turkey.

Turkey and Russia have announced they have agreed to deploy forces to remove YPG fighters and their weapons from the safe zone.

Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Tim Ahmann and David Gregorio

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