Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump-GOP tensions over Syria show signs of easing Trump invites congressional leaders to meeting on Turkey Graham opens door to calling Hunter Biden to testify MORE (R-S.C.) said President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? MORE “would deserve blame” if ISIS returned as a result of Turkey’s offensive in northeastern Syria against Kurdish groups in the area.
“He will have American blood on his hands if he abandons Kurds because ISIS will come back. And if any American is killed anywhere because of a resurgent ISIS, it will fall on [the] Trump administration like it did Obama,” Graham said, referring to President Obama’s exit from Iraq that critics say laid the groundwork for ISIS.
“I blame the terrorists, I blame [Turkish President] Erdoğan for the violence, but I do look to President Trump to fix it,” Graham added.
Trump has been inundated by bipartisan criticism since he announced U.S. troops would withdraw from northern Syria ahead of Turkey’s operation, a move critics said prevented the Turkish offensive.
Graham, typically a staunch Trump ally and defense hawk, said the decision is a “disaster in the making” that “ensures [an] ISIS comeback” and “will be a stain on America’s honor for abandoning the Kurds.”
Turkey launched the operation against Kurdish forces in northeast Syria that allied with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS and were detaining several prisoners from the terrorist group. Ankara has accused the Kurds of being linked with an anti-Turkish insurgency.
Reports have already surfaced about hundreds of ISIS supporters escaping detention. The largest incident occurred when 785 ISIS supporters escaped a detention camp at Ein Eissa after a Turkish shelling, though that figure has yet to be independently verified.
Graham, a chief critic of Obama, said his withdrawal from Iraq was precipitous and that the chaos that followed helped ISIS gain a foothold in the country, but that Trump’s moves could be worse.
“He would deserve blame if he allows ISIS to come back and the Kurds to be slaughtered by Turkey. He absolutely deserves blame,” Graham said. “Obama deserved blame for leaving Iraq too soon and creating ISIS, Trump would deserve blame for allowing ISIS to come back, and to me that would be worse than what Obama did because we know the consequences.”
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