Trump defends Syria troop withdrawal as 'doing what I said I was going to do'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWHCA calls on Trump to denounce video depicting him shooting media outlets Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Trump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage MORE on Monday said that his decisions to “slowly” bring U.S. troops home from Syria is delivering on a campaign promise to withdraw troops from the war-torn nation.

Trump said that “if anybody but Donald Trump” had made the move, they would be lauded as a “national hero.”

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"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," Trump tweeted. "ISIS is mostly gone, we’re slowly sending our troops back home to be with their families, while at the same time fighting ISIS remnants."


Trump said he campaigned on withdrawing from Syria "and other places" and that he was against "never ending wars."

"Now when I start getting out the Fake News Media, or some failed Generals who were unable to do the job before I arrived, like to complain about me & my tactics, which are working," he tweeted. "Just doing what I said I was going to do!"

 

The president has been defensive of his decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria, which he abruptly announced earlier this month, after facing backlash from both sides of the aisle. While he initially said ISIS had been defeated, he has since tempered those comments to state that the extremist group is "mostly" wiped out.

His Monday tweet indicated that troops would "slowly" return home while continuing to fight "ISIS remnants."

Critics have warned that the group is not defeated and that a U.S. withdrawal from Syria could lead to its resurgence. Those opposing the decision have also noted that U.S. adversaries like Russia will benefit from the absence of American forces.

Outgoing Secretary of Defense James MattisJames Norman MattisUS leaves dozens of 'high value' ISIS detainees behind amid Syria retreat: report White House officials stand by Syria withdrawal, sanctions delay amid bipartisan pushback Sunday shows — Officials rush to Trump's defense on Syria, sanctions MORE resigned following Trump's withdrawal announcement.

Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal was also critical of Trump's decision during an interview with ABC's "This Week" that aired Sunday.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Democrats to offer resolution demanding Trump reverse Syria decision Army officer calls Syria pullback 'a stain on the American conscience' MORE (R-S.C.), who has emerged as one of Trump's staunchest supporters in the Senate, has been outspoken in his opposition to the move, calling it an "Obama-like mistake." But the senator appeared more open-minded to the decision after dining with Trump on Sunday.

"We talked about Syria and he told me some things I didn’t know that made me feel a lot better about where we’re headed in Syria," Graham told reporters.

Some lawmakers have offered praise for Trump's decision, arguing that the U.S. lacked a long-term strategy in Syria. 

The exact timetable for the troops withdrawal is unclear. While Trump said Monday that troops will "slowly" return to the U.S., other reports have indicated he plans to "immediately" remove 2,000 troops from northern Syria.

Syria has been ravaged by civil war, and hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed.