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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 April 2019

Donald Trump slowing down planned withdrawal from Syria says senator

Senator Lindsay Graham made the comments following a lunch with Mr Trump

Senior Republican Lindsey Graham that President Donald Trump had promised to stay in Syria to finish the job of destroying the Islamic State group -- just days after announcing he would be withdrawing troops immediately. AFP
Senior Republican Lindsey Graham that President Donald Trump had promised to stay in Syria to finish the job of destroying the Islamic State group -- just days after announcing he would be withdrawing troops immediately. AFP

US President Donald Trump has ordered a slowdown to the withdrawal of forces in Syria, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham said on Sunday.

"I think we're in a pause situation," the South Carolina Republican said outside the White House after his lunch with the president.

Mr Trump announced earlier this month that he was ordering the withdrawal of all roughly 2,000 troops from war-torn Syria, with aides expecting it to take place swiftly. The president had declared victory over the ISIS in Syria, though pockets of fighting remain.

Mr Graham had been an outspoken critic of Mr Trump's policy, which had drawn bipartisan criticism. The announcement also had shocked lawmakers and American allies, including Kurds who have fought alongside the US against ISIS and face an expected assault by Turkey.

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"I think we're slowing things down in a smart way," Mr Graham said, adding that Trump was very aware of the plight of the Kurds.

Critics had contended that the US withdrawal would embolden Iran and Russia, which have supported the government of Syrian president Bashar Al Assad.

National security adviser John Bolton is expected to travel to Israel and Turkey next weekend to discuss the president's plans with America's allies.

Updated: December 31, 2018 10:28 AM

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