Trump slowing down troop pullout from Syria: US senator
President Donald Trump has ordered a slowdown to the withdrawal of U.S. forces in Syria, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has said.
"I think we’re in a pause situation," the South Carolina Republican said outside the White House after lunch with the president.
Trump announced earlier this month that he was ordering the withdrawal of all the roughly 2,000 troops from war-torn Syria, with aides expecting it to take place swiftly. The president had declared victory over ISIL in Syria, though pockets of fighting remain.
Graham had been an outspoken critic of Trump’s decision, which had drawn bipartisan criticism. "I think we’re slowing things down in a smart way," Graham said.
National security adviser John Bolton was expected to travel to Israel and Turkey next weekend to discuss the president’s plans with the American allies.
During his appearance on CNN’s "State of the Union," Graham previewed his arguments to Trump for reconsidering the Syria pullout.
"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, according to the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, AFP reported Dec. 30 that the US flag fluttered above four US armoured vehicles driving through drizzle in the Syrian city of Manbij Dec. 30, each visibly carrying an armed soldier on lookout duty.
"The Americans’ presence is reassuring for people, as the situation has become tense since we heard about their decision to withdraw," said Mohammed Ahmad, a 28-year-old shop owner in Manbij.
Turkey, which views the YPG as a terrorist group, had been threatening a military operation against Manbij. Turkey and its allied fighters have been amassing troops around Manbij in recent days.
Syria’s military announced Dec. 28 it has taken control of Manbij after the YPG invited the regime ahead of Turkey's offensive but Turkish and US officials denied reports that Syria's Bashar al-Assad regime forces entered the city.