Poll: Most Americans want US troops in Syria

Fifty-nine percent of registered voters in the latest The Hill-HarrisX poll said they favor keeping some American forces in Syria, a sign of public opposition to President Trump’s plans to withdraw all troops from the country.

The survey also found that 35 percent of voters think that the U.S. military should remain in Syria because they do not think ISIS has been defeated, compared to 10 percent who agree with Trump that it has been defeated and that troops should be withdrawn. Twenty-four percent said that while ISIS has been defeated, the U.S. should keep some troops in the country.

Trump surprised his own military leaders in December by announcing the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, a decision that led to the resignation of Defense Sec. James Mattis.

The proposal has since run into opposition from Republican lawmakers amid conflicting signals from the administration over how quickly forces will be withdrawn.

On Wednesday, four U.S. service members were killed in a suicide bomb attack that ISIS took credit for carrying out. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) argued that the attack illustrated the danger of withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria. 

The poll did reveal some support for Trump’s position. Forty-one percent of voters said that U.S. troops should be pulled out or should never have been in the country to begin with.

The poll showed opposition from both Democrats and Republicans to the withdrawal, an unusual symmetry in today’s hyper-partisan politics.

A majority of Republican voters, 59 percent, said they favored keeping some military presence in Syria. Most Democratic voters agreed, with 60 percent saying the same. Fifty-nine percent of Independent voters want troops to remain in Syria, while 41 percent prefer withdrawal.

“There is a majority of the American public that feels, for whatever reason, that American troops are still needed in Syria,” Mallory Newall, research director at Ipsos Public Affairs, said Thursday on “What America’s Thinking,” Hill.TV’s show about public opinion.

“What’s really interesting about this poll is that there’s bipartisan support for this,” she continued. “Democrats and Republicans are virtually the same on this.”

While members of both parties seem to want Trump to keep U.S. forces in Syria, there was a notable age gap among respondents, with younger Americans being much more in favor of withdrawing.

A small majority of voters (51 percent) between the ages of 18 and 34 said that the U.S. should not have a military presence in the country.

All other age groups strongly opposed withdrawal. Fifty-six percent of voters between the ages of 35 and 49 wanted to keep troops in Syria as did 68 percent of voters between 50 and 64 and 63 percent of voters older than 65.

The Hill-HarrisX poll was conducted Jan. 12-13 among a demographically representative sample of 1,001 registered voters and has a sampling margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

—Matthew Sheffield



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