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Trump declares victory on ISIS, announces troop withdrawal from Syria

GOP senators protest the move, arguing that the Islamic State is not defeated and that the US cannot abandon its allies

DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it was pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, with the president declaring that the Islamic State had been defeated. However, just the day before the State Department had stressed that the fight against ISIS was not yet over. Since the White House's announcement, some GOP senators have publicly criticized the move.

What about Syria?

Syria has been embroiled in a civil war for nearly eight years. The Islamic State took advantage of this turmoil to take over Syrian territory in its quest to create an Islamic caliphate.

The United States currently has more than 2,000 troops in Syria as part of a campaign to defeat the Islamic State. These troops are largely engaged in training local troops who support the U.S. cause.

The U.S. has been allies in its fight by Syrian Kurds, who are now under an assault of their own from Turkey, which views all Kurds as terrorists. Turkey's repeated incursions against Kurdish strongholds in Syria have strained its relationship with the United States.

What did Trump say?

On Wednesday, the White House announced that the U.S. is pulling all troops from Syria.

Trump has been pushing for the end of the U.S. presence in Syria for a while now. In April, the White House announced that the U.S. mission there was coming to a "rapid end." However, at the time the State Department said it was not aware of any plan to withdraw, and U.S. Kurdish allies seemed surprised.

A U.S. official told Reuters that the withdrawal was expected to take place over a period of 60 to 100 days.

Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement:

The Coalition has liberated the ISIS-held territory, but the campaign against ISIS is not over. We have started the process of returning U.S. troops home from Syria as we transition to the next phase of the campaign. For force protection and operational security reasons we will not provide further details. We will continue working with our partners and allies to defeat ISIS wherever it operates.

Earlier in December, the U.S. led coalition called "[a]ny reports indicating a change in the US position" in Syria "is false and designed to sow confusion and chaos," according to CNN.

Some GOP senators have criticized the move

After the announcement, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) released a series of tweets. In two of those tweets, he called the withdrawal "a huge Obama-like mistake." Graham said that, despite Trump's declaration, ISIS had not yet been defeated in Syria, and that a withdrawal would endanger U.S. Kurdish allies.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also spoke out against the move, calling it a "terrible mistake" and a "grave error that is going to have incredible consequences, that potentially have not been fully thought through. In a Facebook video, he warned that while ISIS has been "significantly degraded" it is "not fair or wise to say it has been defeated."

One last thing…
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