McCain makes secret trip to Syria to meet US troops

McCain makes secret trip to Syria to meet US troops

McCain makes secret trip to Syria to meet US troops A spokeswoman for Republican Senator John McCain said Feb. 22 that he traveled to northern Syria last week to discuss plans for defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) with U.S. forces stationed there.
McCain, an Arizona Republican, is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In a statement on Feb. 22, McCain’s spokeswoman described the visit as a “valuable opportunity to assess dynamic conditions on the group in Iraq and Syria,” The Associated Press reported. McCain had not announced the trip in advance.

This visit came before a visit to Turkey, during which McCain met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Feb. 20 in Ankara. 

McCain has been a harsh critic of U.S. President Donald Trump’s worldview, declaring his administration in disarray. But the statement said the president “has rightly ordered a review of U.S. strategy and plans to defeat” ISIL.

A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-backed force composed mainly of Kurdish fighters along with some Arab members, told Russia’s on Feb. 23 on condition of anonymity that McCain had also come to Kobane, a Kurdish-dominated area in northern Syria, and held talks there with SDF members. 

The SDF source said they had demanded more weapons and support from the U.S., claiming that McCain had promised more support. 

The SDF is mostly comprised of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG), which Turkey regards as a terror organization due to its ties with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and does not want the YPG to exert a strong presence along the border with Syria. 

The U.S. regards the YPG and its political wing, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), as reliable partners in the fight against ISIL.