The Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly voted down a bill 13-84 that would have required President Joe Biden to withdraw the roughly 900 troops stationed in Syria.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., secured a vote on the bill after an onslaught of attacks from militia in recent months targeting U.S. forces in the war-torn country. These militias have launched at least 76 attacks on U.S. forces in both Syria and Iraq since Oct. 7, which marked the start of Israel’s ongoing genocide and bombardment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
“It seems to me, though our 900 troops have no viable mission in Syria, that they’re sitting ducks,” Paul said on the Senate floor ahead of the vote. “They’re a tripwire to a larger war, and without a clear-cut mission, I don’t think they can adequately defend themselves, yet they remain in Syria.”
The Biden administration carried out retaliatory airstrikes in Syria in response to the attacks, including strikes on weapons, ammunition, storage and training facilities.
Further compounding matters, Turkey bombarded U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in northeast Syria in September after a group linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, attacked the Interior Ministry in Ankara.
“We also had American troops take fire from our own NATO ally Turkey,” Paul said. “Just this past September, we returned the favor by shooting down an armed Turkish drone that came within 500 yards of U.S. forces.”
But the overwhelming majority of Republicans and Democrats sided with the Biden administration and opted to vote in favor of keeping the 900 troops in Syria.