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Senators call on Trump administration to reconsider Syria withdrawal

A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden prepares to confront Putin Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting Senate investigation of insurrection falls short MORE on Wednesday asking him to reconsider his decision to begin withdrawing troops from Syria.

In the letter, Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamProgressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema GOP senators applaud Biden for global vaccine donation plans Lindsey Graham: Dismissal of Wuhan lab leak theory cost Trump 2020 election MORE (R-S.C.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenPelosi: 'No intention' of abandoning Democrats' infrastructure goals McConnell seeks to divide and conquer Democrats Progressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema MORE (D-N.H.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstOvernight Defense: Pentagon details military construction projects getting .2B restored from wall funds | Biden chooses former commander to lead Navy | Bill seeks to boost visa program for Afghans who helped US Meghan McCain: Harris 'sounded like a moron' discussing immigration Senate bill would add visas, remove hurdles to program for Afghans who helped US MORE (R-Iowa), Angus KingAngus KingProgressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema Senior Biden cyber nominees sail through Senate hearing Pentagon chief: Military has already started 'over-the-horizon' operations in Afghanistan MORE (I-Maine), Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonOvernight Defense: Austin and Milley talk budget, Afghanistan, sexual assault and more at wide-ranging Senate hearing Cotton, Pentagon chief tangle over diversity training in military Media continues to lionize Anthony Fauci, despite his damning emails MORE (R-Ark.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFive years after the Pulse nightclub massacre the fight for LGBTQ+ rights continues Rubio calls on Biden to 'forcefully' confront Iran over movement of war ships Bipartisan lawmakers want Biden to take tougher action on Nicaragua 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.