Shaheen, Murphy & Senate Dems to Pompeo: U.S. Resources Must be Made Available for Humanitarian Aid in Syria, Iraq

November 01, 2019

**Trump’s Decision Abandoned the Kurds and Puts International Humanitarian Aid Operations at Risk**

**Shaheen Sponsors Multiple Bills Sanctioning Turkey and Russia for Incursion into Northeast Syria & Is a Leader on U.S. Policy in Syria**

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of both the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, sent a letter with Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and a group of Democratic Senators to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, calling on him to ensure U.S. resources are made available for humanitarian efforts to evacuate personnel and continue assisting Syrian refugees inside Iraq. In their letter to Secretary Pompeo, the Senators wrote about their urgent concern for the situation in northeast Syria after the Trump administration’s decision to abandon our partners put at risk international aid operations to the country. The letter was also signed by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Cory Booker (D-NJ). 

“U.S. assistance is channeled through international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) which deliver goods and services from Iraq into Syria via border crossing points at Semalka and Yarubiyeh. If access through these points is denied, all ability of international NGOs to deliver assistance into northeast Syria is at risk,” the Senators wrote. “As a result of President Trump’s reckless decision, Russia and Turkey will now dictate the terms of cross-border access.”

The Senators concluded: “President Trump’s decision not only abandoned our allies the Kurds to being slaughtered by Turkey, it puts at risk the entire international humanitarian aid operation in northeast Syria.”

Full text of the letter can be found here.

Senator Shaheen is a leader on U.S. policy in Syria. Last year, Senator Shaheen travelled with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to Turkey to meet with President Erdogan, and northeast Syria where she met with Arab and Kurdish leaders and visited SDF-controlled detention facilities holding thousands of ISIS prisoners. Shaheen established the Syria Study Group, which was signed into law in 2018. The Syria Study Group released its final report with recommendations for U.S. policy on September 26th. Shaheen introduced bipartisan legislation, led by Senators Graham and Van Hollen (D-MD), to levy sanctions against Turkey following its incursion into northeast Syria. Shaheen is also a cosponsor of bipartisan legislation led by Senators Menendez (D-NJ) and Risch (R-ID) that would require the administration to produce a strategy defending U.S. hard-fought gains against ISIS and prevent an ISIS resurgence in Syria and Iraq. It would also authorize humanitarian assistance for Syrian civilians, restrict arm sales to Turkey and impose new biting sanctions against Turkey and Russia. The legislation also includes a Shaheen provision creating a new ISIS detainee coordinator position, which Shaheen has long advocated for.

Senator Shaheen has worked closely with the family of James Foley, an American journalist and Granite Stater who was murdered by ISIS jihadists. Shaheen has fought to ensure that ISIS terrorists culpable in Foley’s murder, as well as other U.S. citizens, are brought to trial in the United States. Earlier this year, Senator Shaheen authored an editorial in the Washington Post with Diane Foley—James Foley’s mother and the President of the James W. Foley Foundation— addressing the critical issue of ISIS terrorists detained by the Syrian Democratic Forces in northeast Syria.