Senators call on Trump administration to reconsider Syria withdrawal

A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to President TrumpDonald John TrumpSessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines Priest among those police cleared from St. John's Church patio for Trump visit Trump criticizes CNN on split-screen audio of Rose Garden address, protesters clashing with police MORE on Wednesday asking him to reconsider his decision to begin withdrawing troops from Syria.

In the letter, Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWhat you need to know about FBI official Dana Boente's retirement Rosenstein steps back into GOP crosshairs The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump tweets as tensions escalate across US MORE (R-S.C.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenThis week: Surveillance fight sets early test for House's proxy voting Open Skies withdrawal throws nuclear treaty into question GOP faces internal conflicts on fifth coronavirus bill MORE (D-N.H.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstFive things to watch in Tuesday's primaries Key races to watch in Tuesday's primaries The Hill's Coronavirus Report: National Portrait Gallery's Kim Sajet says this era rewiring people's relationship with culture, art; Trump's war with Twitter heats up MORE (R-Iowa), Angus KingAngus KingDeadline for Kansas Senate race passes without Pompeo filing Memorial Day weekend deals latest economic blow to travel industry Bipartisan senators introduce bill to make changes to the Paycheck Protection Program MORE (I-Maine), Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonThe Memo: Trump lags in polls as crises press Overnight Defense: Esper, Milley part of 'command center' for response to protests over George Floyd killing | Several West Point cadets test positive for coronavirus ahead of Trump commencement speech | UN report says Taliban, al Qaeda not breaking ties The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Former Rep. Delaney says Trump is spewing venom when he should be leading; Protests roil the nation as fears of new virus outbreaks grow MORE (R-Ark.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio: Protesters outside White House 'deliberately stayed to trigger police action' This week: Senate reconvenes as protests roil nation amid pandemic Trump asserts his power over Republicans 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.