The US is not going to get involved in “crazy endless wars” over 7,000 miles away, President Donald Trump said on Wednesday, defending his decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria.
The last week decision paved the way for Turkey to launch a cross-border military offensive that aims to push the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from the region. Turkey considers the biggest militia in the SDF a terrorist organisation.
Several lawmakers have criticised the move as an abandonment of Kurdish forces, who were a crucial US ally in the fight against the ISIS.
“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.
The US president hoped that Turkey and Syria will work the situation out between themselves.
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 (Recep Tayyip) 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.
On status of US troops in Syria, Trump said, “Our soldiers are mostly gone from the area. We only had 26, 28 — but under 50. We think it’s probably 28, but under 50 soldiers, and — which is a very tiny force.”
“I campaigned on bringing our soldiers back home, and that’s what I’m doing. That includes other places too; many other places. Statutorily, it takes a period of time. Diplomatically, it takes a period of time.