US lawmakers rebuke Trump, accused of Syria 'meltdown'

WASHINGTON, Shabtai Gold and Eliyahu Kamisher (dpa)- United States lawmakers sent a resounding rebuke to President Donald Trump Wednesday over his decision to pull back troops from Syria and leave Kurdish forces in the face of a Turkish assault.
Members of both the Democrat and Republican parties passed a resolution, by 354 to 60 votes, calling the Syrian Kurds "partners" in the war against the Islamic State and urging Turkey to end its military operation in Syria.

The legislation also demands the White House "present a clear and specific plan for the enduring defeat of ISIS."
Trump is facing intense criticism for removing troops from north-eastern Syria as Ankara began an assault against the Kurds last week that has already caused mass displacement, widespread casualties and the release of some Islamic State prisoners.
Following the vote, Democratic leaders had a highly contentious meeting with Trump which Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer called a "nasty diatribe."
Speaking to reporters, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi accused Trump of having a "meltdown" and Democrats said Trump called Pelosi a "third rate politician." 
The top Democrat added that the president seemed "shaken" by the vote against his Syria actions.
"The safety of America, the safety of the Kurds are in the hands of one person, President Trump," Schumer, leader of the Democrats in the Senate, told reporters, urging the White House to reverse course in Syria and "undo the damage he has done."
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Trump was "measured and decisive" during the meeting and said the Democrats chose to "storm out and whine to cameras."
Trump later tweeted a photo of the meeting captioned "Nervous Nancy's unhinged meltdown!" 
Senate leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, will introduce legislation on Thursday. It is unclear if the Senate leader will allow the House legislation to be voted on.
"This was a mistake. I hope it can be repaired," McConnell said of Trump's actions.
Meanwhile, lawmakers were ploughing ahead with bills of their own to impose sanctions on Turkey, with one bill introduced in the House and another due to come in the Senate on Thursday.
Trump imposed limited sanctions on Ankara this week and has threatened to come back with more if there is no ceasefire.
Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo departed for Ankara on Wednesday to meet with Turkish President Erdogan and attempt a truce negotiation, although Erdogan has so far rejected ceasefire calls.
A letter Trump sent to Erdogan in which the US president tells his Turkish counterpart "don't be a tough guy" also emerged on Wednesday.
"History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen," Trump said in the letter dated October 9. "Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool! I will call you later." 
The letter, obtained by Fox News and verified by other US media, was allegedly sent to Turkey after Trump removed troops from the Syrian border with Turkey paving the way for Ankara's incursion.
"You don't want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don't want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy - and I will," Trump wrote, after urging Erdogan: "Let's work out a good deal." 

Thursday, October 17th 2019
Shabtai Gold and Eliyahu Kamisher (dpa)

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