WASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier today, Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) joined Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) in announcing sanctions legislation against Turkey. Senator Blackburn gave this statement following the announcement of a negotiated ceasefire.
“Without reservation, I lend my wholehearted support to this bipartisan, comprehensive sanctions legislation that holds Turkey, its leadership, and its military accountable for its atrocities,” said Senator Blackburn.
“While I am encouraged that the lines of communication are open, this five-day pause in hostilities does not make up for the lives lost, families displaced, and homes destroyed over the course of the Turkish incursion. Turkey must be held accountable for its destabilization of northern Syria, as well as its massacre of our Kurdish partners. Russia must not be given any geopolitical space; ISIS must not be allowed to resurge. Until Turkey has agreed to a permanent solution that achieves these objectives, the United States must hold strong and these sanctions must remain on the table.”
The Countering Turkish Aggression Act’s sanctions will remain in place until the Administration certifies to Congress that Turkish forces have withdrawn from all locations in the Syrian Kurdish community that they did not occupy prior to the October 9, 2019 invasion.
The largest Kurdish diaspora in the United States is in Nashville, Tennessee. The Syrian Democratic Forces have made significant sacrifices and contributions to the liberation of areas controlled by ISIS and the defeat of the so-called physical caliphate, losing nearly 11,000 brave fighters along the way.
On January 31, 2019, Senators Blackburn and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) requested that President Trump “develop and implement a strategy to help protect the security and diplomatic equities of our Kurdish partners serving in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) during and after the withdrawal of United States military forces from Syria.” The full letter may be found here.
Senator Blackburn included a provision in the Senate-passed 2020 National Defense Authorization Act to support the U.S. partnership with the Kurds in Syria.