Trump defends his controversial decision to pull back US troops from northeastern Syria, saying he is focused on the “BIG PICTURE”.
US President Donald Trump lashed out over sharp bipartisan criticism of his decision saying he is focused on the “BIG PICTURE” that does not include US involvement in “stupid endless wars” in the Middle East.
His comments on Twitter came as Turkey launched a long threatened military operation in northeast Syria to remove Kurdish-led forces from the border area and create a “safe zone” to resettle millions of Syrian refugees.
Turkey had been poised to advance into northeast Syria since US troops began vacating the area on Sunday in an abrupt policy shift by Trump.
“Fighting between various groups that has been going on for hundreds of years. USA should never have been in Middle East,” Trump said in a series of morning tweets. “The stupid endless wars, for us, are ending!”
But many within Trump’s own party ramped up their criticism of his decision on Wednesday, with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham vowing to lead the “effort in Congress to make Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pay a heavy price”.
“Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump administration. This move ensures the re-emergence of ISIS,” Graham said, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS).
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In withdrawing its troops from the area, the US effectively abandoned the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), its main ally in the battle against ISIL.
The SDF is led by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey considers a “terrorist” group.
Trump appeared to try to assuage his critics later on Wednesday, saying the US does not “endorse” Turkey’s operation and has made it clear that it is a “bad idea”.
The US president added that Turkey has “committed to protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place” and that the US “will hold Ankara accountable to this commitment.
Trump defends Syria decision amid Republican backlash.