President Donald Trump on Wednesday said the US does not endorse Turkey’s military offensive in Syria, describing it as a bad idea, but defended his efforts to pull American forces out of the region. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the start of the military offensive on Wednesday.
The White House announced late Sunday that Turkey would soon carry out a military operation in northern Syria and that US troops will no longer be in the immediate area, raising widespread concerns about the safety of the Kurds without American forces to act as a buffer.
“This morning, Turkey, a NATO member, invaded Syria. The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea,” Trump said hours after Turkish forces entered northern Syria. There are no American soldiers in the area, he said.
“From the first day I entered the political arena, I made it clear that I did not want to fight these endless, senseless wars especially those that don’t benefit the United States,” Trump said.
Turkey, he said, has committed to protect civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place and we will hold them to this commitment.
“In addition, Turkey is now responsible for ensuring all ISIS fighters being held captive remain in prison and that ISIS does not reconstitute in any way, shape, or form. We expect Turkey to abide by all of its commitments, and we continue to monitor the situation closely,” Trump said.
Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from the border between Syria and Trukey was roundly criticized by some of the president’s staunchest Republican allies in Congress and Democrats. They said pulling the US forces back essentially gives Turkey room to go after the Kurds.
Armed by the US and backed by American troops and firepower, the Kurdish-led forces put an end to IS’ territorial hold in the region - at the cost of thousands of Kurds killed in years of fighting.