Donald Trump has defended his decision to withdraw US troops from northern Syria and abandon America’s Kurdish allies to a Turkish invasion because ‘they didn’t help us with Normandy’.
The President insisted that he likes the Kurds – who led the fight against ISIS alongside the US – but added that they had been acting in their own self-interest in battling ISIS and it was time for them to continue the fight alone.
Trump also suggested that he isn’t worried about ISIS fighters being held by the Kurds escaping amid Turkish attacks, because ‘they’ll go back to Europe.’
Donald Trump has defended his decision to abandon America’s Kurdish allies in Syria to a Turkish invasion because ‘they didn’t help us in Normandy’
The President said that while he liked the Kurds, they had been fighting ISIS in their own self-interest and suggested it was time for them to continue the battle alone
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces reported multiple Turkish bombing raids against their strongholds on Wednesday, saying multiple civilians were killed
Civilians flee with their belongings amid Turkish bombardment on Syria’s northeastern town of Ras al-Ain in the Hasakeh province on Wednesday evening
‘That’s where they want to go, they want to go back to their homes, but Europe didn’t want them’ he said on Wednesday night.
‘For months we could have given it to them, they could have had trials, they could have done whatever they wanted, but as usual it’s not reciprocal.
‘That’s all I want, I don’t want an edge I just want reciprocal… It’s not a fair deal for the United States.’
Trump spoke out just hours after Turkey began bombing Kurdish strongholds in northern Syria and marched troops across the border in order to establish a ‘peace corridor’ in the north of the country.
It comes after Trump agreed to withdraw US troops from the region and hand security operations over to Turkey during a routine call with President Erdogan.
Erdogan says he wants to drive terrorists – by which he means the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces – away from Turkey’s border so he can resettle some 2million Syrian refugees there.
Donald Trump also suggested that he isn’t worried about ISIS fighters escaping from Kurdish prisons because ‘they’ll go back to Europe’ (pictured, Turkish commandos in Syria)
Turkish soldiers riding in a tank roll towards the Syrian border yesterday evening as the first ground troops prepared to pour into Kurdish territory over the border
Turkish Armed Forces’ howitzers deployed at the Syrian town of Tell Abyad, as part of Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring on Thursday
However, critics say the move will destabilise the region, lead to civilians being killed, and may cause an ISIS resurgence.
Of particular concern are prison camps being run by the SDF which contain some 10,000 ISIS fighters, around 2,500 of them foreigners – mainly from Europe.
Under Trump’s plan, Turkey would take responsibility for these prisoners.
‘The Kurds are fighting for their land,’ Trump told reporters gathered in the Roosevelt Room of the White House for a briefing about business deregulation.
‘As somebody wrote in a very, very powerful article today, they didn’t help us in the second World War, they didn’t help us with Normandy as an example.
‘They mentioned names of different battles. But they’re there to help us with their land and that’s a different thing’
The article Trump appears to be referencing was penned by conservative Kurt Schlichter for Town Hall.
Syrian opposition fighters backed by Ankara move towards Syria’s northern border on Thursday, a high calibre machine gun mounted on the back of their truck
Syrian opposition fighters backed by Turkey enter Tel Abyad towards Syria in Akcakale in Sanliurfa province on Thursday – Turkey has launched a broad assault on Kurdish-controlled areas in northeastern Syria, with intensive bombardment followed by a ground offensive made possible by the withdrawal of US troops
Schlichter took a strong position against abandoning the Kurds last time Trump floated the idea in December last year, but appears to have changed his mind since.
Despite giving his support to Erdogan in their phone call, Trump has since said he thinks attacking the Kurds is a ‘bad idea’ and warned of ‘a big economic price’ if Turkey ‘doesn’t treat Syrian refugees and Kurds humanely’.
However, he refused to be drawn on exactly what his red lines would be.
Trump added that Turkey had committed to ‘ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place – and we will hold them to this commitment.’
Turkey’s defence ministry said Thursday morning that they had struck 181 targets east of the Euphrates River since the incursion started.
The SDF said Turkish warplanes had caused ‘huge panic’ when they attacked the Kurdish-held territory, and claimed the bombardments had killed and wounded civilians.
Video footage released by Turkey’s Defence Ministry shows ‘hero’ commandos moving through fields under cover of darkness and firing rounds after Operation Peace Spring was launched on Wednesday afternoon.