US Senate votes against withdrawal of US troops from Syria amid rising regional tensions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Senate resoundingly rejected a motion to consider a resolution mandating the withdrawal of US troops from Syria. The motion, put forth by Kentucky Republican Rand Paul, faced strong opposition and ultimately failed by a decisive vote of 13-84.

Senator Paul’s proposal aimed to address concerns regarding the safety and mission clarity of American troops stationed in Syria. He contended that the approximately 900 US troops in the region lacked a viable mission and were susceptible to attacks, cautioning against their potential role as a “tripwire for a wider war.”

The backdrop of the motion was the escalating tension in the Middle East, with the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a coalition of Iran-backed armed Shia groups, claiming responsibility for over 75 attacks against US bases in Iraq and Syria since 7 October. These attacks coincided with the ongoing conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.

While the US has pledged support for Israel in its actions against Gaza, the Axis of Resistance, comprising Iran, the Syrian government, Lebanese Hezbollah, and Iraqi Shiite militias, has openly warned Israel of a robust response if it launches a ground offensive in Gaza. Senator Paul pointed to these developments as evidence of the ongoing threat posed by these militias, fueling his push for a withdrawal.

However, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, also representing Kentucky, opposed the motion’s supporters. He argued that its passage would be a “gift to Iran and its terrorist network,” asserting that withdrawing American forces from the Middle East could play into Iran’s hands, jeopardizing regional stability and the credibility of the United States.

The historical context of the US presence in Syria was highlighted, noting that troops were initially deployed in 2014 as part of the campaign against the Islamic State. Following the liberation of the last ISIS stronghold in Syria by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) with international support in 2019, US forces and SDF fighters have continued joint operations against ISIS cells in North and East Syria to ensure a lasting defeat of the fundamentalist group.