Putin supports Trump’s move to withdraw troops from Syria: ‘I agree with him’

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Russia President Vladimir Putin on Thursday voiced support for President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. 

“On this, Donald is right. I agree with him,” Putin said at an annual year-end news conference, according to The Washington Post.

The comment from Putin came a day after the White House announced that it had defeated ISIS in Syria and that it would begin returning troops from the region. 

{mosads}”Five years ago, ISIS was a very powerful and dangerous force in the Middle East, and now the United States has defeated the territorial caliphate,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “These victories over ISIS in Syria do not signal the end of the Global Coalition or its campaign. We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign.” 

Trump tweeted Wednesday that the U.S. had defeated ISIS in Syria, adding that it was “my only reason for being there in the Trump presidency.”

Putin reportedly claimed in the news conference on Thursday that the U.S. troop deployment was illegitimate because its mission had never received approval from Russia’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, or the United Nations. 

“If the United States decided to withdraw its force, then this would be proper,” Putin said, according to the Post, before appearing to voice caution about the troop withdrawal. 

“The United States has been in Afghanistan already for 17 years, and almost every year they say they’re withdrawing their troops.”

Russia and the U.S. support opposing sides in the Syrian civil war. Russia has backed the government led by Assad, while the U.S. has put its support behind forces that oppose the government.

Trump’s decision to withdraw troops was met with criticism from GOP and Democratic lawmakers alike. Sen Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), for example, said on Wednesday that taking the step would be an “Obama-like mistake.” 

But Trump has continued to defend the decision, tweeting early Thursday morning that “getting out of Syria was no surprise.”

“I’ve been campaigning on it for years, and six months ago, when I very publicly wanted to do it, I agreed to stay longer,” he said. “Russia, Iran, Syria & others are the local enemy of ISIS. We were doing there [sic] work. Time to come home & rebuild.”

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