Graham: Trump is in a "pause" on Syria withdrawal

The writer is a senior police manager  supervisor and has done his MPA from Columbia University New York

The writer is a senior police manager supervisor and has done his MPA from Columbia University New York

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a Trump backer and leading voice on national security and foreign affairs on Capitol Hill, had lunch with the president Sunday and emerged from the White House saying that Trump was slowing down the withdrawal from Syria.

"We're talking about sand and death", he stated.

The president also said Syria was "lost long ago".

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to reporters in Rio de Janeiro as Netanyahu continues his state visit to Brazil, said the premier made the request during a recent phone call with Trump, after the U.S. leader announced plans to remove troops from the war-torn Arab country.

Some critics also have expressed fear of a rapid withdrawal of US troops.

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus suggests that Mr Trump appears to be washing his hands of Syria and handing the whole job over to Russia, Turkey and Iran. "Just doing what I said I was going to do!" the president said.

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Military officials have declined to specify the timing of the departure, partly for operational security reasons and partly because many details are still quite fluid, and officials recognize that Trump could change his mind at any moment and speed up the departure.

Graham said he knew Trump was "frustrated" by his limited options in Syria.

By extending the timetable for withdrawal to several months, Trump stuck to his commitment to untangle the United States from yearslong military commitments but also heeded warnings from current and former military leaders of the danger of a quick exit.

Top-ranking U.S. military officials had repeatedly warned against a hasty retreat from Syria, which they say could leave the door open in Syria to allies of President Bashar al-Assad - notably Russian Federation and Iran.

The Kurds have been the main element of the US-backed "Syrian Democratic Forces", a proxy army operating in northeastern Syria against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

"He said "we're killing ISIS" for Assad and Iran" and that Iran "hates ISIS more than we do".

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The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) had announced the withdrawal of their last forces from Manbij last summer, under an agreement made between Washington and Ankara.

"The president is reconsidering how we would do this", Graham said.

"I never said we are getting out overnight", Trump said. "He's frustrated, I get that".

Trump had earlier stunned allies - and prompted the resignation of his respected defense secretary, Jim Mattis - by abruptly announcing that the jihadists were defeated and that United States troops in Syria were ready to leave.

Mr Trump also pledged to protect the Kurdish population in areas under U.S. and Kurdish control in Syria at the moment. The pro-US Kurds had asked for Syrian troops to be deployed first at Manbij, then throughout the North East of Syria, above the Euphrates.

That proposal would likely anger Turkey, where Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, holds talks this week.

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