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US Congressman proposes ending military presence in Syria

Jamaal Bowman's amendment to the US defence spending bill would stop funds for American military operations in the country
Bowman said that US President Biden had taken "tremendous courage" in ending the US military intervention in Afghanistan.
Bowman said US President Biden had "tremendous courage" in ending the US military intervention in Afghanistan (AFP/File photo)
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Washington

US Congressman Jamaal Bowman has introduced an amendment to the annual defence spending bill that would stop funds from being used to maintain Washington's military presence in Syria.

The amendment, introduced to the House of Representatives last week and supported by six other lawmakers, would prohibit funds out of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) from being used to maintain American military operations in the country without congressional approval.

The original amendment sought the prohibition of these funds after a 60 day period, but a revised edition changed it to one year.

It is unclear whether the legislation has enough support to pass. However, on Tuesday, the House Rules Committee advanced a rule allowing the amendment to be considered.

Bowman said that US President Joe Biden had "tremendous courage" in ending the US military intervention in Afghanistan, but Congress must now work to do the same in Syria.

"Too many Syrian lives have been lost as a result of disastrous US policy, but President Biden has an incredible opportunity to demonstrate leadership once again on the global stage," Bowman said in a statement.

"I urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting this amendment and ending the US military's intervention in Syria as quickly as possible."

Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Jan Schakowsky and Congressmen Ro Khanna, Peter DeFazio, Ritchie Torres and Steve Cohen have supported the amendment.

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Last month, the Biden administration completed its withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, and the president also stated that the US combat mission in Iraq will end this year, with troops there transitioning to an advisory role.

However, the US presence in Syria has largely remained the same this year. About 900 US troops are reportedly still in Syria, where they are supporting and advising the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces, a senior Biden administration official told Politico in July.

The official told the newspaper: "We don’t anticipate any changes right now to the mission or the footprint in Syria."

According to a tweet from the US embassy in Syria, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Joey Hood reiterated "the US commitment to the campaign against ISIS and stability in the region".

Bowman's proposed amendment is part of a number of efforts by House progressives to introduce cuts to the massive defence spending bill. 

Khanna, a vocal critic of the Saudi-led offensive in Yemen's civil war, has also introduced an amendment that would stop any federal funds from being used to provide US support to the coalition fighting in Yemen, including prohibiting "sharing intelligence for the purpose of enabling coalition strikes against the Houthis" and providing logistical support for coalition aircraft used to conduct air strikes.

In February, Biden announced an end to offensive support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. However, questions have remained unanswered regarding the details of the decision, such as what constitutes an offensive operation, and what weapons systems would fall under those categories.