The US is not going to get involved in “crazy endless wars” over 7,000 miles away, President Donald Trump has said, defending his decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria.
“When I ran, I ran on the basis we’re going to bring our great soldiers back home where they belong. We don’t have to fight these endless wars. We’re bringing them back home.
“That’s what I won on and some people — whether you call it the ‘military industrial complex’ or beyond that — they’d like me to stay,” Trump told reporters at the White House at a news conference.
Several lawmakers have criticised the move as an abandonment of Kurdish forces, who were a crucial US ally in the fight against the ISIS.
After the US pullout, Turkey launched a cross-border military offensive that aims to push the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces from the region. Turkey considers the biggest militia in the SDF a terrorist organisation.
The Turkish government wants to create a “safe zone” in the border region, where it can resettle up to two million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey.
Responding to a question, Trump said that the Turkish decision to invade Syria did not surprise him as Turkey had been planning it for long.
“President Erdogan’s decision didn’t surprise me because he’s wanted to do that for a long time. He’s been building up troops on the border with Syria for a long time, as you know,” he said.
Trump during the conference said the US had no business in the region “7,000 miles away” and there was no need to worry about Kurdish forces as they are “no angels”.
“It’s their part of the world. We’re 7,000 miles away. It doesn’t mean we’re going to deplete it, like we did before with these crazy, endless wars,” he said.
Remarking on the situation in the region, Trump said they have been warring for many years and this did not surprise him.
“Syria doesn’t want Turkey to take its land. I can understand that. But what does that have to do with the United States if they’re fighting over Syria’s land,” he said.
Trump asked are we supposed to fight a NATO member, in order that Syria, who is not our friend, keeps their land. “I don’t think so. But Syria does have a relationship with the Kurds,” he said.
Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are travelling to Turkey on Thursday for talks with the government, Trump said.
“We’ve put massive sanctions on Turkey, and we have additional sanctions,” the US president said.
Trump has imposed sanctions on Turkish ministries and senior officials, proposed to raise steel tariffs and end negotiations on a USD 100 billion trade deal.