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Leading GOP Senator Warns Against Early U.S. Troop Pullout From Syria


U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican-South Carolina)

An influential Republican senator has warned against pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, countering recent comments by U.S. President Donald Trump expressing hopes for a quick withdrawal.

"It’d be the single worst decision the president could make," Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Fox News on April 1.

Graham said an immediate pullout could allow Islamic State (IS) militants to regroup and hand Iran increased sway over the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

"We got [IS] on the ropes. You want to let them off the ropes, remove American soldiers."

"This is a disaster in the making...There are over 3,000 [IS] fighters still roaming around Syria," Graham said.

"If we withdrew our troops anytime soon, [IS] would come back, the war between Turkey and the Kurds would get out of hand, and you’d be giving Damascus to the Iranians without an American presence," he added.

Trump on March 29 said the United States, which has about 2,000 troops in the Middle Eastern country, would be "coming out of Syria, like, very soon."

Russia and Iran are supporting Assad in the 7-year-old civil war, while Washington and its allies -- including Turkey -- are backing rebel groups seeking to oust Assad.

IS also entered the war, fighting both sides, and captured large swaths of territory in Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014.

But it has since been pushed out of nearly all of its territory, leading some in the United States to call for an early exit of U.S. troops.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters

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