Senators call on Trump administration to reconsider Syria withdrawal

A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to President TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA MORE on Wednesday asking him to reconsider his decision to begin withdrawing troops from Syria.

In the letter, Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWhy Trump's bigoted tropes won't work in 2020 The Memo: Toxic 2020 is unavoidable conclusion from Trump tweets GOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm MORE (R-S.C.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenCrucial for Congress to fund life-saving diabetes research Overnight Defense: House approves 3 billion defense bill | Liberal sweeteners draw progressive votes | Bill includes measure blocking Trump from military action on Iran Senators urge Trump to sanction Turkey for accepting Russian missile shipment MORE (D-N.H.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstBlack Caucus leader calls Trump's attacks on minority lawmakers 'despicable' Schwarzenegger calls Trump attack on minority lawmakers 'un-American' and 'crude' GOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm MORE (R-Iowa), Angus KingAngus Stanley KingFive things to watch for at Defense nominee's confirmation hearing Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (I-Maine), Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonFive things to know about Iran's breaches of the nuclear deal Hillicon Valley: Trump gets pushback after reversing course on Huawei | China installing surveillance apps on visitors' phones | Internet provider Cloudflare suffers outage | Consumer groups look to stop Facebook cryptocurrency The Hill's Morning Report - Harris, Warren rise and Biden tumbles after debates MORE (R-Ark.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioLiberal think tank: GOP paid parental leave proposals are too narrow GOP senator: 'Outrageous' to say Trump's tweets about Democratic congresswomen are racist House passes bills to boost small business cybersecurity 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.