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Trump to slow down troop withdrawal from Syria, Sen. Graham says

Sen. Lindsey Graham listens to the testimony of Defense Secretary Ash Carter during a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Dec. 9, 2015. (U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Tim D. Godbee/Department of Defense)
January 01, 2019

After a meeting with President Trump, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said that the U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria has been slowed down.

“I think we’re in a pause situation,” Graham told reporters outside the White House on Sunday, according to the Associated Press. “I think we’re slowing things down in a smart way.”

“We had a great lunch. We talked about Syria, and he told me some things I didn’t know that make me feel a lot better about where we’re headed in Syria,” Graham said.

“He promised to destroy ISIS. He’s going to keep that promise,” Graham noted. “We’re not there yet, but as I said today, we’re inside the 10-yard line, and the President understands the need to finish the job.”

Graham was among the President’s harshest critics inside the GOP after Trump announced his decision to withdraw at least 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria, while also claiming that ISIS had been defeated.

Graham, among numerous other Republican members of Congress, contended that the decision to withdraw would be a victory for ISIS and result in devastating consequences.

“We still have some differences but I will tell you that the president is thinking long and hard about Syria – how to withdraw our forces but at the same time achieve our national security interests,” Graham said on Sunday, according to Reuters.

“I think the president’s very committed to making sure that when we leave Syria, that ISIS is completely defeated,” he added. “I think the president has come up with a plan with his generals that makes sense to me.”

Graham took to Twitter to reiterate his comments,

“I learned a lot from President @realDonaldTrump about our efforts in Syria that was reassuring,” Graham began in a series of tweets.

“The President will make sure any withdrawal from Syria will be done in a fashion to ensure: 1) ISIS is permanently destroyed. 2) Iran doesn’t fill in the back end, and 3) our Kurdish allies are protected,” he added.

“President @realDonaldTrump is talking with our commanders and working with our allies to make sure these three objectives are met as we implement the withdrawal,” he concluded.

Ahead of his meeting with Trump, Graham had said he planned to sit down with Trump to request a slowdown of the troop withdrawal.

“I’m going to ask him to sit down with his generals and reconsider how to do this. Slow this down. Make sure that we get it right. Make sure ISIS never comes back. Don’t turn Syria over to the Iranians. That’s a nightmare for Israel,” Graham said.

“And, at the end of the day, if we leave the Kurds and abandon them and they get slaughtered, who’s going to help you in the future?” he said. “I want to fight the war in the enemy’s backyard, not ours. That’s why we need a forward-deployed force in Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan for a while to come.”