The Morning Dispatch: Friday, October 11, 2019

Grim news out of northern Syria, where Turkish forces are continuing their advance into Kurdish-controlled land. The Turks, who are attempting to seize control of a wide band of the Kurds’ territory in which to resettle refugees from the Syrian civil war, have battered Kurdish towns with airstrikes and heavy artillery. Meanwhile Turkey’s border towns have been hit with rockets from Syria. Civilian casualties are piling up on both sides, and the U.N. estimates that 70,000 civilians in northern Syria have been newly displaced.

After his surprise announcement that the U.S. would cease its military support of the Kurds earlier this week, President Trump seemingly left the door open for another strategic shift Thursday:

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1182387198164946944

It would make sense for Trump to try to walk this back, as it’s hard to overstate just how far out on a limb he is with GOP lawmakers here. By The Dispatch’s count, 24 GOP senators and 38 House members have distanced themselves from the White House’s new Syria policy, with only a handful actively praising it. The president is counting on a lot of loyalty from his party as Democrats prepare for impeachment—he can’t be thrilled to see those numbers increasing.

But do these defections truly spell political danger for Trump, as some pundits have suggested? A three-day deep dive into lawmakers’ reactions reveals that while members are growing testier, there’s little indication yet that congressional Republicans objections on Syria are bleeding into their stances on the impeachment-related issues that could threaten his grip on the White House.

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