Published: Thu, January 03, 2019
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Syria conflict: Trump 'slowing troop withdrawal', says Lindsey Graham

Syria conflict: Trump 'slowing troop withdrawal', says Lindsey Graham

"If anybody but Donald Trump did what I did in Syria, which was an ISIS loaded mess when I became President, they would be a national hero", the president said. "We're not talking about vast wealth, we're talking about sand and death".

However the Turkmen have expressed their desire to be set free from the dictatorship of the pro-US Kurds, not by Syria but by Turkey. "I said we're pulling our soldiers out..." he said.

Graham, who as a member of the Armed Services committee has frequently visited USA troops in combat zones, was once a frequent critic of Trump but, reversing course, now frequently defends him and seems to have gained privileged access to the president's ear.

"I think we're in a pause situation where we're re-evaluating what's the best way to achieve the president's objective of having people pay more and do more", Graham said.

The prime minister told the press ahead of the meeting-held in Brazil's capital after the inauguration of the country's new president, Jair Bolsonaro-the main topics of discussion was to be with the withdrawal of US troops from Syria and Iranian attempts to establish a military presence in the war-torn country.

"Slow this down. Make sure we get it right".

US President Donald Trump has ordered a slowdown to the withdrawal of US forces in Syria, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said.

In contrast to previously emphatic victory declarations, Trump said that "ISIS is mostly gone".

Trump claimed Iran was suffering under renewed U.S. sanctions since he withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with worldwide powers- he spoke in the Cabinet Room of the White House with a movie-style poster promoting his sanctions laid before him on the conference table- but he did admit they remain a powerful presence in Syria. "Don't turn Syria over to the Iranians".

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"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.

They will not, however, abandon the Kurds, he added, reasoning that the Kurdish forces fight better when they have USA fire power backing them up.

In mid-December, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced an imminent Turkish operation east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria, saying Turkey had begun taking action toward the offensive against the PKK terror group's Syrian affiliate the YPG.

Critics not only warn of a resurgence of IS, but worry that the American exit is a betrayal of US -backed Kurdish forces in Syria and leaves them vulnerable to an attack from Turkish forces.

Graham said his meeting with Trump was reassuring.

Graham praised Trump, who visited United States troops in Iraq last week, for announcing that a U.S. force would remain there.

That proposal would likely anger Turkey, where Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, holds talks this week.

Trump had earlier stunned allies - and prompted the resignation of his respected defense secretary, Jim Mattis - by abruptly announcing that the jihadists were defeated and that United States troops in Syria were ready to leave.

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