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Syria critic Lindsey Graham now thinks Trump's policy might actually work

After weekend conversation with president, Republican senator has changed his mind and thinks a solution can be reached
Graham had previously warned that Trump's decision to pull out US troops would lead to 'destruction' of Kurdish fighters in region (AFP)

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been one of the most vocal critics of President Donald Trump's decision to move US troops out of northeastern Syria, said on Sunday that he now believes "historic" solutions are possible.

In an interview with Fox News Channel, Graham said a conversation he had with Trump over the weekend had fuelled his optimism that a solution could be reached where the security of Turkey and the Kurds was guaranteed and the Islamic State (IS) group contained.

Graham told Fox: "I see a way forward now that really, quite frankly, is historic, historic security for Turkey, historic security for the Kurds. A plan to keep ISIS down and out forever, and a chance to keep the oil fields in the hands of our allies, not our enemies, would be a hell of an outcome, and I think that's now possible." ISIS is another acronym for the Islamic State group.

The senator from South Carolina said Trump was prepared to use US air power over a demilitarized zone occupied by international forces, adding that the use of air power may help ensure that IS fighters who had been held in the area would not "break out", Reuters reported.

Graham had previously warned that Trump's decision to pull out US troops would lead to the "destruction" of Kurdish fighters in the region.

On Thursday, MEE reported that Graham said: "What Turkey did in Syria is unacceptable. Turkey's incursion into Syria hurts America's national security. It puts at risk our Kurdish allies who were there for us when nobody else was on the ground." Kurdish allies of the US lost as many as 11,000 people in the fight to defeat IS in Syria.

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Senator Jim Inhofe, a Republican who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on Saturday that Trump understood the need for the United States to maintain air power in the region.

"The US must retain air power to keep the pressure on ISIS, prevent our adversaries Russia and Iran from exploiting this situation and protect our partners on the ground," he said in a statement.

Graham on Sunday also said he believed the United States and Kurdish forces long allied with Washington could establish a venture to modernise Syrian oil fields, with the revenue flowing to the Kurds. "President Trump is thinking outside the box," Graham said of Trump's proposition on oil.

"The president appreciates what the Kurds have done," Graham added. "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."