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Trump now says he agrees '100 percent' that some US troops need to stay in Syria

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The statement was made in a response to a letter sent by members of Congress

DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images

When members of Congress wrote to President Donald Trump expressing their desire to leave a "small contingent" of American forces in Syria, he wrote back saying that he agreed with them "100%," NBC News reported.

Here's what we know

The letter was signed by a bipartisan group of 12 senators, including Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

The letter said, in part:

It is a tremendous accomplishment to defeat the caliphate, and we join you in deep appreciation for the efforts of our military and our allies. Our goal now must be to ensure ISIS is not able to regenerate and pose a threat to American security here at home or abroad.

To that end, we support a small American stabilizing force in Syria. We agree that a stabilizing force, which includes a small contingent of American troops and ground forces from our European allies, is essential to ensure stability and prevent the return of ISIS. It also serves to help set the table for a negotiated settlement to the Syrian war in Geneva.

With a marker, Trump highlighted one paragraph in particular, which stated that:

Like you, we seek to ensure that all of the gains made in Syria are not lost, that ISIS never returns, that Iran is not emboldened, and that we consolidate our gains and ensure the best outcome in Geneva for American interests. Those are all important objectives. An international presence will also help prevent conflict between our NATO ally Turkey and the Syrian Democratic Forces that have been central to the counter-ISIS campaign.

Trump's earlier decision to pull all U.S. troops from Syria led to the resignation of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the coalition targeting ISIS.

The decision to withdraw also caused concern among U.S. Kurdish allies. While the Kurds have proven to be invaluable allies in the fight against ISIS, Turkey considers all ethnic Kurds to be terrorists due to the actions of a Kurdish militant group inside Turkey. In October, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to "descend on them [the Kurds] with more comprehensive and effective [strength]."

The Kurds make up part of the multi-ethnic Syrian Democratic Forces mentioned in the letter.

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