October 23, 2019

Van Hollen, Senators Request Expedited Visa for General Mazloum

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) today sent the following letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting that he assist with the issuance of a U.S. visa for General Mazloum, leader of the Syrian Democratic Forces, to visit the United States to discuss the path forward in deescalating conflict in Syria and the path forward in the fight against ISIS.

Dear Mr. Secretary:

The decision to pull back U.S. troops along the Turkey-Syria border area has grave consequences for U.S. national security and our allies and partners in the region.  The Assad regime, beginning in 2011, with the assistance of Russia and Iran, has slaughtered hundreds of thousands of its own people.  Now Turkey, against tremendous international pressure, has embarked on an invasion of the northern part of Syria and displaced tens of thousands of people, and killed hundreds more in an attempt to remove our partners on the ground who helped rid the world of the scourge of the ISIS caliphate. 

With the assistance of our partner force, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), comprised of Kurdish, Arab, and minority forces, we have erased ISIS’ physical caliphate from the region.  While everyone suffered from this difficult fight, the SDF lost more than 10,000 fighters, far more than anyone else. 

To say we are extremely concerned with the situation unfolding in northern Syria is an understatement.  We have had the opportunity to meet with Ilham Ahmed, the leading civilian representative of the Syrian Democratic Council, the political arm of the SDF, who is in the United States on an emergency mission to stop the ongoing hostilities against the Syrian Kurds and other coalitions fighting ISIS.

We also believe that it would be very beneficial for Congress and the Administration to hear directly from the military leadership of the SDF about the situation on the ground and the fight against ISIS.  Therefore, should General Mazloum Kobani Abdi, who is responsible for everyday operations against ISIS, request to visit the United States, we ask you to expedite his visa and issue any applicable waiver that might be required.

We ask you to give this request your immediate attention.