Senators call on Trump administration to reconsider Syria withdrawal

A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build Trump Tower in Moscow during 2016 campaign: report DC train system losing 0k per day during government shutdown Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees MORE on Wednesday asking him to reconsider his decision to begin withdrawing troops from Syria.

In the letter, Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal McConnell blocks bill to reopen most of government On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction MORE (R-S.C.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenGOP reasserts NATO support after report on Trump’s wavering Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party The Hill's Morning Report — Trump eyes wall money options as shutdown hits 21 days MORE (D-N.H.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstTrump tells GOP senators he’s sticking to Syria and Afghanistan pullout  McConnell: Senate will not recess if government still shutdown Barr calls for 'barrier system' on border MORE (R-Iowa), Angus KingAngus Stanley KingGOP senators challenge Trump on shutdown strategy Will Trump declare an emergency tonight? Only he knows for sure Senate in last-minute talks to find deal to avert shutdown  MORE (I-Maine), Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonOn The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Overnight Defense: Trump faces blowback over report he discussed leaving NATO | Pentagon extends mission on border | Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (R-Ark.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees Overnight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal Bipartisan senators reintroduce bill to prevent Trump from withdrawing from NATO MORE (R-Fla.), expressed concern that withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria would "renew and embolden" ISIS's efforts in the region. 

"We write today to express our concern regarding your Administration’s consideration to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria," the senators wrote. "We believe that such action at this time is a premature and costly mistake that not only threatens the safety and security of the United States, but also emboldens ISIS, Bashar al Assad, Iran, and Russia."

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“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 continued.

"However, ISIS is not the only threat. The brutal dictatorship of Bashar al Assad continues to weigh heavily upon the Syrian people, and we fear that a withdrawal of our troops may embolden Bashar al Assad to take further actions to solidify his power,” they added.

The senators also said they believed removing American presence from Syria would give a boost to "two other adversaries," Iran and Russia. 

"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."

The senators urged the president not to "repeat the same mistakes" made by administrations before his. 

"Your administration must not repeat the same mistakes that previous administrations have made and concede to these bad actors,” they wrote. 

Trump declared victory against ISIS in Syria on Wednesday morning in a tweet after The Wall Street Journal, followed by The Washington Post, reported that he was preparing an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria.

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

The White House confirmed in a statement Wednesday that the administration has “started returning United States troops home” but emphasized that coalition efforts in Syria would continue. It also doubled down on Trump's claim that “the United States has defeated the territorial caliphate.”

"The United States and our allies stand ready to re-engage at all levels to defend American interests whenever necessary, and we will continue to work together to deny radical Islamist terrorists territory, funding, support, and any means of infiltrating our borders,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Senate Republicans, in a rare move, lashed out at Trump over the decision, with several lawmakers saying Congress received no warning of Trump’s announcement.

“It’s a terrible decision,” Rubio said earlier Wednesday. “I hope it can be entirely or at least partially reversed, or we’re going to pay a big price for it in the years to come.”

“I don’t know what they’ve done, but this is chaos,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a staunch Trump ally and Armed Services Committee member, told reporters earlier that day.

— Updated 10:30 p.m.