Trump hits Graham over his criticism of Syria troop withdrawal

President TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation MORE is hitting back at Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse Johnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens Overnight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families MORE (R-S.C.) over his opposition to plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria.

“So hard to believe that Lindsey Graham would be against saving soldier lives & billions of $$$. Why are we fighting for our enemy, Syria, by staying & killing ISIS for them, Russia, Iran & other locals? Time to focus on our Country & bring our youth back home where they belong!” Trump tweeted Thursday.


Trump on Wednesday declared victory over the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the White House announced that it would begin withdrawing troops from Syria.

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.

The announcement was met with shock in Washington, where it caught lawmakers and the Pentagon off guard. Lawmakers from both parties criticized the move, including Graham who called it a plan for "chaos" and an "Obama-like mistake."

“I give the president all the credit in the world for changing their policies regarding the fight against ISIS, but I will not buy into the narrative that they have been defeated,” Graham said in a Wednesday evening address.

“To say they're defeated is an overstatement and is fake news,” he added. “It is not true. They have been severely damaged, but they will come back unless we're there to stop them.”

Graham, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, ran against Trump in 2016 for the GOP nomination. But since then has become a staunch defender of the president.

Graham said Thursday that he plans to introduce a resolution that calls on Trump to reverse plans for the withdrawal. Graham said he hopes for a vote before the end of the year.

In a bipartisan letter to Trump with other senators, Graham said leaving Syria would give ISIS new life.

“If you decide to follow through with your decision to pull our troops out of Syria, any remnants of ISIS in Syria will surely renew and embolden their efforts in the region,” they wrote.

“As you are aware, both Iran and Russia have used the Syrian conflict as a stage to magnify their influence in the region," the senators wrote. "Any sign of weakness perceived by Iran or Russia will only result in their increased presence in the region and a decrease in the trust of our partners and allies,” they added.

Trump has defended his decision, including by invoking the memory of service members who died fighting in Syria.

“They're all coming back and they're coming back now. We won, and that's the way we want it and that's the way they want it,” Trump said while looking up and pointing to the sky in a video posted to Twitter.

Trump on Wednesday declared victory over ISIS. But on Thursday he said the U.S. withdrawal would shift the burden for fighting the group onto Russia and Iran.

Updated at 2:55 p.m.