US military leaders are preparing a plan that could keep Islamic State (ISIS) fighters from regaining a foothold in Syria, while preventing Syrian oil from falling into the hands of Iran or the militant group, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said on Thursday.
"There's a plan coming together from the Joint Chiefs that I think may work, that may give us what we need to prevent ISIS from coming back, Iran taking the oil, ISIS from taking the oil," Graham told reporters after receiving a briefing from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the White House, according to Reuters.
"I am somewhat encouraged that a plan is coming about that will meet our core objectives in Syria," he added.
Graham’s comments follow President Donald Trump’s announcement of a withdrawal of US forces in northeastern Syria, which was followed by a Turkish incursion into northeastern Syria where it attacked Kurdish fighters which are allies of the US but viewed by Turkey as terrorists.
Graham had expressed opposition to Trump’s sudden decision soon after it was made, warning such a move would be a “nightmare for Israel”.
Later, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu condemned the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria, Graham stated, “Could not agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu more. Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria attacking one of America’s most reliable allies – the Kurds -- is a nightmare for the US and Israel.”
Earlier this week, however, he appeared to change course, telling Fox News Channel that a conversation he had with Trump had fueled his optimism that a solution could be reached in which the security of Turkey and the Kurds was guaranteed and ISIS fighters would be contained.
“I am increasingly optimistic that we can have some historic solutions in Syria that have eluded us for years if we play our cards right,” Graham told the network.
“President Trump is thinking outside the box,” he stated. “The president appreciates what the Kurds have done. He wants to make sure ISIS does not come back. I expect we will continue to partner with the Kurds in Eastern Syria to make sure ISIS does not re-emerge.”