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Lindsey Graham: Trump 'slowing down' withdrawal of troops from Syria

By Daniel Uria
Lindsey Graham: Trump 'slowing down' withdrawal of troops from Syria
A Russian army helicopter hovers of one of the ruins of the historical city of Palmyra, Syria, on March 4, 2017. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday that President Donald Trump was "slowing down" plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria. Photo by Youssef Badawi/EPA

Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Sen. Lindsey Graham said President Donald Trump agreed on Sunday to slow down plans to remove troops from Syria.

Graham, R-S.C., said he has "never felt better about where we are headed" in regards to Syria after discussions with Trump and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford about previously announced plans to remove all of the approximately 2,000 service members from the country, CNN reported.

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"I think we're slowing things down in a smart way," he said. "I think we're in a pause situation where we are reevaluating what's the best way to achieve the president's objective of having people pay more and do more."

Earlier in the day Graham told CNN State of the Union host Dana Bash withdrawing troops from Syria could result in the deaths of Kurdish people.

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"There are three things important for this country. Number one, make sure that ISIS never comes back in Syria," he said. "We need to kseep our troops there. They're inside the ten-yard line in defeating ISIS, but we're not there yet. If we leave now, the Kurds are going to get slaughtered."

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After the lunch, Graham said that during Trump's recent trip to Iraq, commanders on the ground informed him the Islamic State hadn't been "completely destroyed" which was an "eye-opening" experience for the president.

Graham also said Trump told him "some things I didn't know" about his plans in Syria "that make me feel a lot better about where we're headed" in the country.

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"The President assured me he is going to make sure he gets the job done, and I assured him that nobody has done more to defeat ISIS than he has. We are inside the 10-yard line," he said.

Graham had previously been critical of Trump's decision to remove the troops from Syria and had said Defense Secretary James Mattis believed the "job in Syria is not yet done" the same day Mattis announced he would leave the White House, citing differences with Trump.

He said on Sunday however, that his most recent meeting with Trump left him with a more positive outlook.

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"I feel better about Syria than I felt before I had lunch. The President is taking this really seriously. The trip to Iraq was well timed," Graham said.

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