Republican senators break with Trump on Afghanistan, Syria withdrawal

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The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate voted Monday to oppose the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan, breaking with President Donald Trump as he calls for a military drawdown in both countries.

Senators voted 70-26 for the amendment sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The measure says ISIS and al-Qaeda militants still pose a serious threat to the United States, and it warns that “a precipitous withdrawal” of U.S. forces from those countries could “allow terrorists to regroup, destabilize critical regions and create vacuums that could be filled by Iran or Russia.”

Trump abruptly tweeted plans for a U.S. pullout from Syria in December, arguing that ISIS had been defeated even though his intelligence chiefs have said it remains a threat. Trump also ordered the military to develop plans to remove up to half of the 14,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The strong bipartisan vote comes as Republican senators have increasingly diverged from Trump on foreign policy. When he introduced the amendment last week, McConnell said “ISIS and al-Qaeda have yet to be defeated.”

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