U.S. Ambassador: 17,000 Syrian Refugees Waiting to Come Here

Sam Dorman | August 31, 2015 | 4:07pm EDT
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Brett McGurk, deputy assistant secretary for Iraq and Iran, testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on July 23, 2014. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – U.S. Ambassador Brett McGurk said that 17,000 Syrian refugees have applied to enter the U.S. and that the nation will likely take in “more” of them next year.

“We took in about 1,500 last year. We think we’ll take in more next year,” McGurk, who serves as the deputy special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, said Sunday on Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

McGurk’s comments came in response to Todd’s question about whether the U.S. would increase the number of refugees it takes in from Syria.

“The United States takes in more refugees than any country around the world. We took in about 70,000 refugees last year, 20,000 asylum seekers. We have about 17,000 Syrian refugee applicants now to come into the U.S.,” he said.

"We took in about 1,500 last year. We think we'll take in more next year," he said.

McGurk went on to discuss the refugee issue as part of a broader effort to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

"But this is a global challenge. President Obama spoke about this with [German] Chancellor [Angela] Merkel last month. I'm going to be in Brussels in a couple of weeks with Gen. [John] Allen talking to the EU [European Union] about this problem. 

"At the UNGA later this month, the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama's going to get together all the leaders of the international coalition..." 

 "[T]he humanitarian line of effort is one of the key lines of effort in the fight against ISIL, it’s not just military. It’s restricting the control of foreign fighters, it’s humanitarian, it’s taking away its finances, and it’s rebutting its propaganda in the social media,” McGurk said.

Related: State Dept. Official: ISIS No Longer a Terroirst Group But 'A Full-Blown Army'

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