House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement as the House begins debate on an amendment to provide the President with the authority to train and equip moderate elements of Syrian opposition forces: 

“If left unchecked, ISIL could become a direct threat to the United States, but this isn’t just an American problem. ISIL poses a serious threat to our allies in the region. The people of the Middle East, with our support, must have a stake in this fight. 

“Today we will begin debate on an important piece of legislation that will, if passed, authorize the Administration to begin training and equipping moderate elements of the Syrian opposition. This opposition will become the backbone of the resistance to ISIL in Syria and the Assad regime. It will not be easy, but it is necessary. Eventually, there will need to be a capable force that can confront ISIL fighters on the ground and that ground force should not be United States military personnel. To achieve a lasting solution, the Syrians must help defeat this cancer. It is their country, and they will ultimately be part of what comes next. 

“In Erbil, with our support, our Kurdish partners have resisted ISIL’s offensives. In Mosul, the Kurds and Iraqi Security Forces, with US airpower, took back the Mosul Dam. We saw the Iraqis fight off ISIL in Amerli with the support of US airpower. There is a formula for success and ISIL can be defeated. We must continue and expand our support in Iraq and we must develop moderate Syrian partner who can take the fight to ISIL on the ground.  

“With that in mind, I encourage my colleagues to support this amendment and give the Administration the authority it needs to develop a capable partner that can help us remove this threat from the Middle East and the world.”