U.S. House overwhelmingly backs resolution condemning Trump's withdrawal from Syria

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY) speaks during the introduction of the Climate Action Now Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to condemn President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northeastern Syria, clearing the way for Turkey’s offensive against U.S.-allied Syrian Kurds.

The vote was 354 to 60 for the resolution, as dozens of Trump’s fellow Republicans joined the majority Democrats in favor.

The vote underscored deep unhappiness in Congress over Trump’s action, which many lawmakers view as abandoning Kurdish fighters who had been fighting alongside Americans to defeat Islamic State militants.

They also angrily denounced the release from prison of Islamic State fighters since Turkey’s offensive began a week ago.

“That was a betrayal of our partners. It was a gift to Russia, a gift to Iran, a gift to ISIS (Islamic State) and a gift to (Syrian President Bashar al-) Assad,” said Representative Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who sponsored the resolution.

Separately on Wednesday, congressional and committee leaders from both parties were meeting with Trump at the White House to discuss his Syria policy.

The resolution backed by the House opposes Trump’s decision to remove the troops and calls on the his administration to present a “clear and specific plan for the enduring defeat of ISIS (Islamic State).

It also calls on Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to immediately end the offensive, seeks continued U.S. support for Syrian Kurdish communities through humanitarian support and also calls on the United States to work to ensure that Turkey’s military acts with restraint.

A companion resolution, also backed by Democrats and Republicans, was introduced in the Republican-majority Senate on Tuesday, but has not yet been brought up for a vote.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Grant McCool