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National Security & Defense

Graham: Syria-Withdrawal Announcement Boosted ISIS ‘Enthusiasm’

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) greets witnesses in Washington, D.C., January 16, 2019. (Yuri Gripas/REUTERS)

Senator Lindsey Graham said Wednesday that President Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from Syria has emboldened ISIS, shortly after the terror group took credit for a suicide bombing that killed several U.S. soldiers.

“My concern [about] the statements made by President Trump is that you have set in motion enthusiasm by the enemy we’re fighting,” Graham said. “So I would hope the president would look long and hard [at] where he’s headed in Syria.”

ISIS quickly claimed responsibility Wednesday for a suicide bombing that killed several American service-members at a restaurant in the Kurdish-controlled town of Manbij in northern Syria. The U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS in the area confirmed that U.S. troops were killed in the attack but did not reveal the number and said additional details would be forthcoming.

“The president has been fully briefed and we will continue to monitor the ongoing situation in Syria,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

“We saw this in Iraq. And I’m now seeing it in Syria,” Graham said.

The South Carolina Republican, normally a staunch ally of President Trump, has been one of the fiercest critics of Trump’s decision last month to bring home the approximately 2,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in Syria.

The president claimed last month that U.S. forces have “defeated ISIS,” a claim reiterated Wednesday by Vice President Mike Pence.

“Every American wants our troops to come home, but I now think all of us want to make sure that when they do come home, we’re safe,” Graham said Wednesday. “I know people are frustrated. But we’re never going to be safe here unless we’re willing to help people over there who will stand against this radical ideology.”

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