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(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday night welcomed a White House announcement that some 200 U.S. military personnel will remain in Syria after the troop withdrawal first signaled by President Trump in December.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a brief statement that “[a] small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for a period of time.”
Graham - Number - Lawmakers - President - Withdrawal
Graham, one of a number of Republican lawmakers dismayed by the president’s withdrawal announcement, said the decision to keep the small force “will ensure ISIS does not return and Iran does not fill the vacuum that would have been left if we completely withdrew.”
He added that the move would also ensure that a conflict does not erupt between Turkey and the U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
US - Troops - Syria - SDF - Fight
The 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria have been supporting the mostly Kurdish SDF in the fight against ISIS. Trump said in December they would be returning home, as the terrorist group had been defeated.
One key concern of critics of the pullout plan was that Turkey would attack the SDF once the protection provided by its U.S. allies is removed.
Thursday - Announcement - Phone - Call - Trump
Thursday’s announcement came after a phone call between Trump and Erdogan.
The original withdrawal announcement had also followed a Trump-Erdogan phone conversation, on December 14. Ankara claimed afterwards that Erdogan had during that call persuaded Trump to remove the troops.
Weeks - Tensions - NATO - Allies - Erdogan
The ensuing weeks brought new tensions between the ostensible NATO allies, as Erdogan vowed to crush the YPG and Trump warned that the U.S. “[w]ill devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds.”
Trump at the time also indicated that he wants a 20-mile-wide buffer zone on the Syrian side of the Syria-Turkey border.
Thursday - Phone - Conversation - White
After Thursday’s phone conversation, the White...
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