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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? 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 MattisOnly Donald Trump has a policy for Afghanistan New Pentagon report blames Trump troop withdrawal for ISIS surge in Iraq and Syria Mattis returns to board of General Dynamics 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 GrahamWhite House won't move forward with billions in foreign aid cuts GOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads Cindy McCain says no one in Republican Party carries 'voice of reason' after husband's death 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.