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In Surprise Syria Visit, Graham Tells Kurds He'll Tell Trump to Not Abandon Them

A U.S. soldier sits on an armored vehicle on a road leading to the tense front line with Turkish-backed fighters in Manbij, north Syria, on April 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) made a surprise visit to Syria this week, with Graham telling concerned Kurdish forces that he would convey to President Trump the importance of continuing to back these forces who have been fighting and defeating ISIS.

Graham was on video telling a group from the Manbij Military Council (MMC), which is linked to the Syrian Democratic Forces, “I will tell President Trump it’s important we stay here and help you. You are friends of the United States and if we leave it will be terrible.”

“And I will go tell the story to my colleagues about Manbij; it’s a place of hope in a region that needs hope,” he said of the Kurdish area that has been under attack from Turkey.

The senators also visited Baghdad. “Grateful for the opportunity to meet & thank our troops in person, as well as coalition partners for their service and immense progress made on security post-ISIS,” tweeted Shaheen. “It wasn’t long ago that ISIS was approaching Baghdad city limits.”

They met last week with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which Graham called a “very good, respectful, and candid meeting.”

“We have real differences, but far more in common,” Graham tweeted. “Turkey needs to be a strategic partner for the US in a win-win fashion.”

While in Turkey, the senators met with Andrew Brunson, a North Carolina pastor who lived in Turkey for decades and was sent to jail in December 2016 on a hazy accusation of “membership in an armed terrorist organization.” Turkish prosecutors are seeking 35 years in prison on false coup-related charges.