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President Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his decision to pull US troops out of Syria, calling it “strategically brilliant,” and denied giving Turkey a “green light” to launch operations against Kurdish militants.
“President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogans decision didnt surprise me because hes wanted to do that for a long time,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “Hes been building up troops on the border with Syria for a long time.”
Trump has come under intense fire for effectively giving Turkey a green light to invade northern Syria, but he dismissed those concerns.
“I didnt give him a green light,” Trump said of a telephone conversation he held with Erdogan prior to the Turkish incursion. “Just the opposite of a green light.
“I wrote a letter right after that conversation, a very powerful letter,” he said.
Trump spoke as Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prepared to travel to Turkey to try to persuade Erdogan to halt the offensive.
Trump emphasized that US troops were out of harms way and that the fallout from the US withdrawal was for Syria, Turkey and Russia to work out among themselves.
“I view the situation on the Turkish border with Syria to be, for the United States, strategically brilliant,” Trump said, alongside visiting Italian President Sergio Mattarelli.
“Our soldiers are out of there, our soldiers are totally safe. Theyve got to work it out,” he said.
“Turkey has gone into Syria. If Turkey goes into Syria, thats between Turkey and Syria—its not between Turkey and the United States, like a lot of stupid people would like you to believe.”
PKK worse than Islamic State
Trump expressed confidence that US nuclear weapons stored at Turkeys Incirlik air base were secure, despite flaring tensions between Ankara and its NATO allies over the Syrian incursion.
And he minimized the escape of Islamic State fighters who had been held by the Kurds as an attempt to “make us look like, Oh, gee, we have to get right back in there.”
Critics have warned their escape gives the jihadists an opportunity to regroup after having lost their caliphate in Syria to US forces and their Kurdish allies, and the UN Security Council on Wednesday adopted a unanimous statement warning of the risk of a jihadist “dispersion” in the region.
“You have a lot of countries over there that have power and that hate ISIS very much, as much as we do. So I think were in a very strategically good position,” Trump said.
“And the Kurds are much safer right now but the Kurds know how to fight and as I said, they arent angels. They are not angels if you take a look,” he said.
Trump said the Kurdish rebel PKK, who have waged a decades-lRead More – Source