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US House votes down bill directing removal of troops from Syria

LEGISLATION directing US President Joe Biden to remove some 900 troops from Syria within 180 days was soundly defeated in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Opponents of the measure claimed that the proposed law could allow the Islamic State (Isis) terrorist movement to reorganise, endangering the US and its allies.

The resolution, introduced by Republican Matt Gaetz, was rejected by 321 votes to 103.

Mr Gaetz introduced the measure after four US military personnel were wounded last month during a helicopter raid in north-eastern Syria that killed a senior Isis leader.

Mr Gaetz dismissed the notion that “what stands between a caliphate and not a caliphate are the 900 Americans who have been sent to this hellscape with no definition of victory.”

Although the legislation was defeated, support appears to be growing in Congress for ending decades-old authorisations for the use of military force.

Wednesday also saw a Senate panel approve a Bill by 13 votes to eight that seeks to formally end the authorisations for the Gulf and Iraq wars.

Texas Republican Michael McCaul, who chairs the House of Representatives committee on foreign affairs, said: “Withdrawal of this legal, authorised US troop deployment must be based on the total defeat of Isis.”

The committee’s senior Democratic member, Gregory Meeks of New York, said that he opposed an indefinite US military presence in Syria but claimed that Mr Gaetz’s Bill would force “a premature end to our mission at a critical time for our efforts”.

The US sent troops to Syria ostensibly to fight Isis, though former US president Donald Trump said they were there “only for the oil.” Isis has long been militarily defeated, mainly by Syrian government and Kurdish forces, but carries out periodic terrorist attacks.

This came as Geir Pedersen, the United Nations special envoy for Syria, called for renewed attempts to reach a political solution to the country’s nearly 12-year-old conflict in the wake of last month’s devastating earthquake.

He called for a “Syrian-led-and-owned political process facilitated by the United Nations,” including a return to meetings of representatives of both the government and opposition.

The earthquake killed more than 50,000 people, including about 6,000 in Syria.

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