Shaheen Expresses Alarm Over Prospect of a Turkish Invasion in Northern Syria & Urges Erdogan to Continue to Engage in Dialogue

August 06, 2019

**SHAHEEN: “An invasion risks devastating instability and the inadvertent escape of thousands of ISIS prisoners. This should be averted at all costs.” ** 

**Shaheen has long worked with the families of victims murdered by ISIS to bring killers to justice** 

**Last year, Shaheen traveled to Turkey to meet with President Erdogan and northeastern Syria where she met with local Arab politicians and SDF members holding thousands of ISIS prisoners**

(Washington, DC)—U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) issued the following statement regarding heightened concern Turkey could invade northeast Syria:

“I am deeply concerned that a Turkish invasion of northeast Syria would pour gasoline on the ongoing crisis in Syria,” said Shaheen. “An invasion risks devastating instability and the inadvertent escape of thousands of ISIS prisoners. This should be averted at all costs. The ensuing chaos will only bring more suffering to the people of Syria and to neighboring states. I urge President Erdogan to show restraint and engage in good faith discussions at this time. Ultimately, any situation that pits Turkey against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)will further deteriorate the relationship between Turkey and the United States. The precariousness of the detainment of ISIS fighters also highlights the short sightedness of President Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria. Our partners who were instrumental in defeating ISIS on the battlefield continue to maintain a hard-won peace in northeast Syria- a rare bright spot in this war-torn country--and it is only with our support that they can make sure that these prisoners never again fight for their heinous cause. I remain very concerned that the prospects for justice for James Foley and his family, and other victims of ISIS, could be lost. I urge all leaders involved to think of the long-term repercussions of their decisions in Syria.”

Earlier this year, Senator Shaheen authored an editorial in the Washington Post with Diane Foley, the mother of slain journalist James Foley and the President of the James W. Foley Foundation, addressing the critical issue of ISIS terrorists currently detained by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeastern Syria. Shaheen and Foley are critical of the administration’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Their op-ed reads in part:

The president’s unexpected decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, however, has betrayed the trust the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] put in the United States. Without U.S. support, the SDF will be in a battle for survival, degrading the group’s ability to oversee the detention of these Islamic States fighters or complete the mission to eradicate the terrorist group in the region. This not only puts the lives of Syrian Kurds in jeopardy but also risks a resurgence of Islamic State violence around the globe. Among the many ramifications, the prospect of justice for James [Foley] and other Americans murdered by the group could disappear.

In 2018, Senator Shaheen travelled with Senator Lindsey Graham to Turkey to meet with President Erdogan and northeastern Syria where she met with Kurdish leadership holding thousands of ISIS prisoners. Senators Shaheen and Graham discussed their trip with 60 Minutes.

Shaheen successfully amended the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act to establish a senior coordinator position within the Executive Branch for all ISIS detainee issues. This position would lead all diplomatic engagements and planning regarding the future of ISIS detainees.