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Turkey-backed Syrian fighters in northern Syria on Oct. 22, hours before a deadline for the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters under a U.S.-brokered deal. Photo: Bakr Alkasem/AFP via Getty Images

Jim Jeffrey, President Trump's special representative on Syria, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday the U.S. is looking into allegations of war crimes during the Turkish offensive in Syria.

"We haven't seen widespread evidence of ethnic cleansing. Many people fled because they're very concerned about these Turkish-supported Syrian opposition forces, as we are. We've seen several incidents which we consider war crimes."
— Jim Jeffrey's testimony

Why it matters: Jeffrey made the statement to the House the same day that Trump lifted sanctions against Turkey after the nation agreed to a "permanent ceasefire" in Syria. Trump declared his decision to remove U.S. forces resulted in a "great outcome."

The big picture: During his testimony, Jeffrey also confirmed an earlier statement made by Defense Secretary Mark Esper that "over 100" militants from the Islamic State, or IS, had escaped and their whereabouts were unclear.

  • "We obviously had troops there, the mission was defeating ISIS, so if you remove those troops before that mission is complete, you have a problem — and we do have a problem right now," Jeffrey said.
  • Human rights group Amnesty International said last week that there is "damning evidence" of war crimes and other violations by Turkish forces and their allies, "launching unlawful deadly attacks in residential areas that have killed and injured civilians."
  • Turkey denies it has committed any war crimes, per Reuters.

What's next: Jeffrey told Congress the U.S. is looking at various options for working with the Syrian Democratic Forces on what kind of military coalition presence there would be in the northeast.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

46 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats propose raising debt ceiling through midterms

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House and Senate leadership announced on Monday that they plan to attach a proposal to raise the debt ceiling through Dec. 2022 to a short-term, government funding bill. The bill must pass before the end of the month or Congress risks a shutdown.

Why it matters: Democrats are taking a huge risk by trying to force through an increase of the debt limit in its must-pass funding bill. The move is wishful thinking on behalf of Democrats who are hoping they can get at least 10 centrist Republicans to balk, as well as an effort to put Republicans on record opposing it.

Biden to stress U.S. does not seek new Cold War in UN speech

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

President Biden will use his first address before the UN General Assembly to lay out his vision for an era of "intensive diplomacy" with allies and "vigorous competition" with great powers — without a Cold War with China.

Why it matters: Biden will take the podium in New York on Tuesday with his own international credibility in question after the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. His administration also is struggling to build international momentum to fight climate change, the pandemic and rising global authoritarianism.

6 hours ago - Health

Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients announced on Monday that the Biden administration will allow fully vaccinated travelers from around the world to enter the U.S. beginning in November.

Why it matters: The announcement comes as President Biden seeks commitments from countries to donate vaccines to the global COVAX initiative. He is expected to host a COVID summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this week, and many of the countries attending have expressed frustration with the travel ban.

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