U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday called the Turkish military operation in northern Syria “a bad idea,” while defending his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the region.
“The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea,” Trump said in a statement regarding Turkish incursion into Syrian territory starting on Wednesday.
Trump confirmed that U.S. military personnel in the area had been evacuated, which was seen as an abandonment of the Kurdish forces, a U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State (IS).
Trump’s decision prompted unremitting criticism from U.S. lawmakers.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a political supporter of Trump, lambasted Trump’s position on Syria. “Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump Administration. This move ensures the reemergence of ISIS,” he tweeted on Wednesday.
Trump defended his decision in the statement by citing his election campaign commitment.
“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,” he said.
In another move to reassure critics, the statement noted that Ankara had committed to protect civilians and to ensure the IS would not reconstitute.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday declared the beginning of the military operation in northern Syria against the Kurdish forces that Ankara deems as terrorists and separatists.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry on the same day condemned the Turkish military offensive on Kurdish positions in northern and northeastern Syria, stressing the Syrian government’s determination to confront the “Turkish aggression by all means.”