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U.S. Republicans chastise Trump over Syria pullout

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on October 7, 2019 - Duration: 02:19s

U.S. Republicans chastise Trump over Syria pullout

U.S. President Donald Trump's plan to pull American troops from northern Syria ahead of a Turkish military incursion has provoked a rare rebuke from leading members of his own Republican party.

Zachary Goelman reports.

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U.S. Republicans chastise Trump over Syria pullout

(EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS VERSION OF THE STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED TO ADD COMMENTS FROM REPUBLICAN SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL.) U.S. President Donald Trump's plan to pull American troops from northern Syria provoked a rare rebuke on Monday from foreign policy hawks in his own Republican party.

Some are warning the withdrawal would abandon American Kurdish allies to the mercy of Turkey and the Syrian army, and could lead to a resurgence of Islamic State.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement urging Trump to "to exercise American leadership to keep together our multinational coalition to defeat ISIS and prevent significant conflict between our NATO ally Turkey and our local Syrian counterterrorism partners." One of the strongest critics on the subject is one of Trump's closest allies: South Carolina Senator Linsdey Graham.

Graham unleashed a barrage of tweets, calling the planned pullout "a disaster in the making," describing it as a stain on American honor, "a nightmare for Israel," and writing, "President Trump may be tired of fighting radical Islam.

They are not tired of fighting us." Graham was so livid at the news that he called into the Fox and Friends morning television show, which counts the president as a frequent viewer, to vent his frustrations.

Other Republicans unnerved by the planned withdrawal include Senator Marco Rubio, who called it "a grave mistake," and Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, and Peter King from New York.

The White House announced plans to pull U.S. forces from Syrian early Monday.

U.S. troops are in the region supporting Syrian Kurdish fighters known as the YPG who proved decisive in rooting out Islamic State militants.

But Turkey, across the border, views the YPG as a terrorist group affiliated with Turkish Kurdish militants.

And President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long been threatening to send his army into Syria to seize territory from the YPG.

A YPG spokesman on Monday called the U.S. move a "stab in the back." A White House statement Sunday night said "Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria." But a Pentagon spokesman on Monday clarified that the President and the Department of Defense did not endorse Turkey's offensive.

Trump later warned on Twitter, "if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey."

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