U.S. Congress unites against Trump over Syria withdrawal

U.S. President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw troops from Syria has been met with criticism in Washington, including ardent supporters of the U.S. president.

Senior U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Monday blasted Trump over the decision, calling it "unnerving to its core," while Senator and Democratic Party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders described the withdrawal as "extremely irresponsible.’’

The U.S. withdrawal from Syria is "a big win for Iran and ISIS," leading Republican voice on foreign policy known for his strong support of the U.S. president Graham said during an interview with pro-Trump Fox News network.

U.S. forces have begun to withdraw from parts of northern Syria to make way for a Turkish invasion in the region after Trump agreed to let Turkey launch its long-planned offensive against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). 

The White House, in a statement issued late Sunday, said Turkey would "soon be moving forward" with its "long-planned operation" in northern Syria and that the United States wouldn't be involved. The statement followed a call earlier on Sunday between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Trump.

The Republican senator said contrary to official statements from the White House, the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group had not yet been fully defeated in the region.

Kurdish forces have spearheaded the campaign against Islamic State in the region, but following Sunday, Turkey would take custody of captured ISIS fighters, the White House said.

The explanation provided by the White House for the withdrawal "the biggest lie told by this administration," Graham said while urging Trump to "reverse course" from the decision.

The Republican Senator later on Monday tweeted that he was prepared to introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey in addition to calling for its suspension from NATO if the country went ahead with the "attack Kurdish forces who assisted the U.S. in the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate."

Sanders, the Democratic presidential candidate in the 2020 U.S. elections, took to Twitter to criticise the move.

Sanders said the withdrawal is "likely to result in more suffering and instability.''

Republican Senator Marco Rubio also voiced his opinion on Twitter that the Trump administration had made a grave mistake with implications that will extend beyond Syria.

Aaron Stein, the director of the Middle East Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said no party, including the U.S. military, understood Trump's decision to withdraw forces from Syria, calling the move “madness.''

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the decision reckless, misguided and "betraying [the U.S.'] Kurdish allies", urging President Trump to reverse it, in a statement she released.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also released a statement where he said the withdrawal would benefit Russia, Iran and the Assad regime, while increasing the risk of terrorist groups regrouping. McConnell urged the president to prevent significant conflict between Turkey and Syrian Kurds.