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Sen. Cruz Issues Statement on President Trump’s Announcement of Halt of the Turkish Offensive in Northeast Syria

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today issued a statement following President Trump's announcement regarding the halt of the Turkish offensive in northeast Syria:

"Any halt to hostilities in Syria is welcome news. I have said before that Turkey's incursion is totally unacceptable, and Turkey needs to cooperate with the United States to address its security interests in northeast Syria. This invasion endangered our Kurdish partners, and unfortunately now risks a resurgence of ISIS. The United States should stand by our Kurdish allies, who have a long history of standing with America against our enemies, and try to stop the chaos that ISIS fighters are taking advantage of by escaping prison."

Yesterday, during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Sen. Cruz praised the administration for its defeat of ISIS:

"I think it is worth pausing to recognize that the defeat of ISIS, taking away their so-called caliphate is an extraordinary national security victory for the United States and something for which the Trump administration and the brave men and women in our armed services deserve enormous credit for winning that victory. I also agree with the president's ultimate objective of bringing our soldiers home. I think the American people have a limited time and patience for our sons and daughters being in harm's way."

He continued, noting the need for an effective counterterrorism strategy to ensure ISIS does not return and praising the Kurds for standing with the United States against our enemies:

"That being said, I think the way this decision was executed was precipitous and risked very serious negative consequences. The two that are most problematic in terms of how this decision was executed is number one; I am concerned there is a substantial possibility of ISIS returning. There are right now some 15,000 ISIS fighters who remain in Iraq and Syria. And pulling out without an effective counterterrorism strategy, presence, and platform to combat those fighters, risks those fighters ultimately attacking United States citizens and endangering our national security.

"Secondly, I think the way we announced the withdrawal, risked abandoning the Kurds to military onslaught and potentially even the threat of a genocide. I think the Kurds have a long history of standing with America against our enemies, of risking their lives to stand with America against our enemies, and were the United States to sit back while Turkey attempted to slaughter the Kurds; I think that would be nothing short of disgraceful."

When Sen. Cruz asked about the number of ISIS fighters who have been released, or are at risk of being released, James F. Jeffrey, the State Department's special envoy for Syrian affairs, reinforced the danger of an ISIS resurgence, saying:

"Again, a relatively small number appear to have escaped. Of actual detainees as opposed to people that we worry about who are internally displaced persons, mainly adult females that were married to ISIS fighters, so the number is relatively small. But all ISIS, I want to be clear, all ISIS detainees are in jeopardy [of escaping...] about 10,000 [ISIS detainees]."