WASHINGTON D.C. — President Donald Trump is moving ahead with the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, but they're not coming home. They're heading to Iraq to continue the fight against terrorism.
Trump said he wants to bring the soldiers back home, but Defense Secretary Mark Esper said they’ll be staying in the region.
“The current game plan is for those forces to reposition into Western Iraq,” he said.
The withdrawal of nearly 1,000 troops will take weeks, Esper said. The troops will help defend Iraq and “perform a counter-ISIS mission as we sort through the next steps.”
President Trump continues to stand by his foreign policy actions.
“We never agreed to protect the Kurds for the rest of their lives,” Trump said.
Some lawmakers are standing by the president.
“I don’t see a clear mission in Syria,” Congressman Tom Reed, R-New York, said. “I believe those troops were there illegally and unconstitutionally to begin with. Congress has the war power, and that’s never been done with Syria.”
Reed said the redeployment of our troops to existing bases is routine.
However, Democratic lawmakers, like Rhode Island Congressman Jim Langevin, said the move makes Americans less safe.
“I think it’s going to go down in history as one of the worst blunders in U.S. foreign policy,” he said. “This will not make the United States or that region more secure.”
“The only person that can stop this disaster from happening is President Trump,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, said.
Murphy says the move will allow ISIS to strengthen and disrupt any stability in the Middle East.
“As we speak, ISIS prisoners are escaping, are reconstituting, are potentially planning attacks against the United States,” he said.
President Trump held a press conference on Oct. 23, saying the safety of that region is up to Syria and Turkey. He said a cease fire agreement is in place, which was established without any American casualties.
Many foreign policy experts have said the move has destabilized the region. Some prisons holding ISIS fighters and families were vacated by Kurdish fighters, allowing those imprisoned to escape. Trump, however, said those who got out have been mostly recaptured and secured.
See his statements in the video player below.